“Where the Wild Things Are” Speaks to Homeschoolers

The movie has been out now for several days and the objections of parents is both loud and relentless. The professional reviewers are split on the subject but most parents seem to be troubled by the liberties filmmakers have taken.

What are the concerns? Primarily that the film is dark, sad, hopeless and frightening. A film that many thought would appeal to 3-5 year-olds instead seems created for adults.

Now I have to confess that I haven’t seen the movie but for my purposes this morning I’m not sure that’s important.

The problem, it seems, is that those who adapted Sendak’s book for film were forced to expand a simple ten-sentence story into an hour and forty-five minutes of entertainment. And in doing so they tackled it from an adult point of view. In the process the story became something that was no longer appropriate for the young audience that loved the book.

We do that too sometimes, don’t we? We take a relatively simple subject that children can grasp, accept and move on with and we teach it through adult eyes complete with far-too-much information and far-too-many emotional insights.

Let me give you an example. When we’re teaching history, for instance, it’s enough for a 5-year-old to know that the world had a huge disagreement in the early 1940’s over how the nations of the world should relate to one another. It was a difficult five years that required great sacrifice on the part of many to resolve. The end.

Instead, we often rush headlong into dumping all that we’ve learned as adults into our teaching. Soon we’re talking about concentration camps and Hiroshima, the USS Arizona and the bombing of London. Children end up frightened, confused and troubled by things that need not concern them- yet.

There WILL come a time when our children need to grapple with the tough moral issues of slavery, abortion, genocide and atomic bombs. But that time isn’t when they’re 5 or 6 years old. For now, less is more and simpler is better.

In 1 Cor 13:11 Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought  like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put child ish ways behind me.”

As teachers and as parents we need to remember this simple truth- children do not think like adults and we must teach them on their own level. That includes knowing not only what to teach, but what NOT to teach!


6 Responses so far »

  1. 2

    Marya said,

    WTMI….Amen Steve!!! I love this book and read it all the time to the kids. I never read all that other stuff into it and will definitely not be taking my younger kids.

  2. 3

    Ely B said,

    Very well said. So true!

  3. 5

    Andrea said,

    Well Put Steve! Thanks!

  4. 6

    Sue S (RI) said,

    Very true!

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