In this article, we’ll challenge students to use careful thought and precise language to explain the difference between “the best” and “a personal favorite.”
Open with a simple question:
Is “the best” and “my favorite” the same thing?
I say no.
My favorite movie is The Incredibles, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the best movie ever made. I’d probably say 2001 is the best movie. Or many point to Citizen Kane.
Ask students to consider many different categories: film, music, books, games, clothing, characters, actors, and so on. Do they have different “bests” and “favorites?”
Define the Terms
If students determine that best and favorite are different, ask:
How can we define the difference between “best” and “favorite?”
In my previous examples, the “bests” have incredible technical accomplishments, are well constructed, and stand out as ahead of their time. They are deep and rich and have emotional connections.
Yet… I don’t watch or listen to them as often as my favorites.
The “favorites” are still great works of art, but perhaps they have less of a balance. They are weighted heavily towards my own personal taste.
Perhaps that’s my definition: the “bests” are perfectly balanced, while “favorites” are unbalanced in a way that we personally like.
Explain Personal Favorites
Can students explain why their favorites aren’t necessarily the best?
- Pick a category (video games, movies, songs, etc).
- Determine the best of all time.
- Decide on your personal favorite.
- Explain why your favorite isn’t the best.
Of course, I’d play both songs for my students so they could understand my sample:
A Day In The Life is the best Beatles song of all time because it utilizes ground-breaking techniques, challenges the listener, yet is still an enjoyable song to listen to. It evokes strong emotions as we hear about various senseless deaths from the newspaper and ponder what life is all about. The song builds from a simple piano, guitar, and voice combination to a swelling, full-orchestra explosion of sound. The Beatles manage to pack all of this into a listenable pop song.
She Said, She Said is a lesser Beatles song, yet is my favorite. It doesn’t have the strong emotional journey of A Day In The Life, but does appeal to my personal tastes. I enjoy strange rhythms, and this song’s beat shifts constantly. The lyrics are almost nonsense, but the rhythm and sound of the words are more important than their meaning. Finally, the guitars have a strange distortion applied to them that sounds incredibly modern, despite being recorded decades ago.
What do your kids come up with? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or @IanAByrd.
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