Conan the Barbarian Has the Answer

You probably don’t remember the scene. It’s below. Very short. It came to me this morning.

“What is best in life?”

Such a perfect question with which to plumb the depths of historical or literary figures1. English and History uses abound2 Don’t play it seriously. There’s a reason to use a cheesy Conan quote to introduce this. It ought to have some humor. As always, your example will be key. Make it good and then break down with the students why it is good.

  1. The simplest thing is to play the clip. Discuss it. Now the students assume whatever persona and write the three3 things that person would say are best life. The things that are best have to be concise and quick. I’d probably have them write explanations for their choices for proof of processing/show your work purposes.
  2. More – Students work together in groups to write the “best in lifes” for a number of figures with another figure as final judge of what is right.
  3. Even more – The class votes on the best answer and mash it into the original video. I’d probably do this with every major section. These videos then become a collection for later review. You’ve got two choices here. You could just dub your best Conan impersonation into the video as is or you can make your own yurt set and film your students doing the lines dressed as the persona.

Note the image below is a crappy 5 minute example and a bad summary of their positions. This is a difficult activity to do well. It takes time and a deep understanding of the individuals to do it properly and that’s exactly what makes it good. The image does do a decent job of showing how you might use other media types if video doesn’t interest you or isn’t an option.

what is best in life IM chat


1 Imagine it’d work for scientists or mathematicians

2 It also gives me a chance to do my Arnold impersonation.

3 Number of your choosing. 3 is a good number but make sure you keep it limited.

Comments on this post

  1. Jim Doran said on September 4, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I’m going to start my next JavaScript class with this. 🙂

    Thanks.

    • Tom said on September 4, 2009 at 9:48 am

      Now I never imagined that! I’d love to see the results on YouTube.

  2. Jim said on September 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Now Tom,

    I don’t know if you realized this, but the whole historical character thing on Twitter would be sick, I imagine you have already, but seeing your whole back and forth between Stalin, Khan, and Machiavelli hit me long a long overdue truck. Get on this!

    • Tom said on September 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm

      My dream is to have whole online personas interacting, favoriting photos, twitter, blogs, netflix queues etc. I’ll never manage it here in lockdown land but YOU, you Jim Groom can do it. Live my dream. Take these wings and fly.

  3. Jim said on September 5, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Consider me on it! But I’m gonna need a lot of help, get your ass up here 🙂

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