The “Gryphon” Experience
Gryphon presents a fourth-grade boy, Tommy, and his class’s experience with a peculiar substitute teacher, Miss Ferenczi. Tommy narrates the story as a mature, experienced adult from afar. The students are confronted with more than just a substitute teacher. They are presented with an unaccustomed view of the world and are challenged to open their minds and think for themselves. Do not believe everything you hear and do not be afraid to go against the grain of humdrum normalcy, are central to “Gryphon”, whose key symbol (Miss Ferenczi) support its central theme: life is dreary and uninspiring without a sense of imagination and wonder. Tommy’s classroom is the typical fourth grade setting with arithmetic, spelling, and history lessons. The classroom itself doesn’t change throughout the story, but everything new to Tommy and his classmates is introduced in the classroom by Miss Ferenczi, whose thought provoking instruction techniques set “Gryphon” into action. Liken to a container, the classroom is filled with information, of which, the children pick and choose to take their “knowledge”. Before the substitute, the children’s teacher forced knowledge upon the students through memorization. Mr. Hibner’s teaching methods, selection of material, or mandated school lessons have exiled Tommy and his classmates into a conventional educational system that produces run of the mill people through mind-numbing fact recitals dubbed “knowledge”.
For Tommy, the classroom is his world and he attempts to make the most of it, prompted by the unorthodox Miss Ferenzci. Miss Ferenczi challenges her students to take her information for what it’s worth. Whether to agree or disagree with the literal meaning is of secondary value, but most importantly, actively engaging in the imagination marauding necessary to invoke self-actualization and decide for themselves what inspires them. Tommy’s fourth-grade classroom represents an idyllic setting...
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