Monday, November 9, 2009
Teaching kids historical perspective through the movies
On Friday I took the kids to see the new Disney’s Christmas Carol. It was amazing technically, and filled with real Christian messages. Musical selections included “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World”. The message front and center was that you gain happiness by helping others.
After the movie, my ten-year-old was filled with questions. Why were the horses of death chasing him? Why was the Ghost of Christmas Present keeping two children called Want and Ignorance under his skirts? Did people really have to go to jail because they were poor? I was so glad that I had been able to take them to a quality movie that offered the opportunity to discuss such deep questions.
On Saturday my twelve-year-old surprised me by requesting that we watch Gone With the Wind. This is my favorite movie of all time. Why the sudden interest? She has been studying the Civil War in school and they have been watching Glory, which is told from the Northern perspective.
So we sat and watched the whole thing. We paused the movie many times so I could explain what was going on culturally. The difficulties of those times made me so thankful for the modern conveniences we take for granted. What was chloroform and why did they have to cut off solidiers’ legs without it? Why did they have to boil the soldiers’ clothing?
There were also some tricky moral questions. Why was Belle Watkins considered a bad woman? Why were Scarlett and Ashley kissing when they were married to other people? Why was Scarlett marrying her sisters’ beaus?
I also got to give them a little movie history. I recited for them the names of the actors, the awards the movie and the book had reaped, and why the sunset kiss between Scarlett and Rhett was controversial for its time.
Not only do true classics never go out of style; they offer great opportunities to share your knowledge and make it relevant to the world that your children are familiar with.