When I was in school, “movie watching” was one of those things that was held out as a treat.
You know what that was like.
If you can muddle through your class’s study of the Civil War in eighth grade, we’ll pile you all in the auditorium and screen Gettysburg. Two weeks before the end of 11th grade, you’ll get the honor of watching a Shakespeare remake on the wheeled-in TV cart with VCR.
Lights out = Joan out. Asleep. Unconscious. Kaput! Zzzzzz…
OK, I like to sleep, but more than that, I was tired of those topics by the time we got through all the boring stuff before the movie. Even something I was interested in, like Beowulf, I’d dissected through so many essays that I couldn’t take any more by the time the Bonus Movie Screening rolled around.
I’ve also never been the world’s biggest TV or movie fan. I have no problem with screen entertainment, but I never sought it out.
Enter Ashar’s dad, Chris, who dubbed himself recently “Homeschool A/V Guy.” He can recommend a movie for every possible topic of interest.
And he’s smart about when to bring them up: We often START with a movie, and see where we go from there.
Case in point: Ashar had been doing just a little bit of reading about William Shakespeare in an issue of Kids Discover, and it mentioned the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes version of Romeo and Juliet.
Well, we kept an eye out – and spotted that movie in our OnDemand choices soon after.
Ashar loved it. This version uses all the original dialogue, but modern settings – which is more than a little bit trippy at first, but it really grows on you!
That, of course, spurred her to pick up a copy of Romeo & Juliet we had upstairs and start reading scenes. She had browsed our Shakespeare collection before, but for a visual learner like Ashar, the film was really the spark to dig deeper!
Next up came an interest in Treasure Island. Would you believe, when Ashar got her new cell phone, she immediately went into the Google Books app and noticed it had Treasure Island for free? She dug in – but the language was hard for her to follow.
Two days later, we’re at the Redbox kiosk, and we see the 2012 edition of Treasure Island, complete with Eddie Izzard and Elijah Wood! I didn’t even know that existed, but it was perfect.
(Perfectly long, too, by the way – 3 hours, spread over two parts.)
Anyway, we watched the whole thing – and again, Ashar became immersed in the story. Now, as she’s reading the book on her phone, it makes more sense. She has context and an idea of the plot… and, because of the trailers, she’s now thinking she might be interested in Moby Dick as well!
These both fall into the category of strewing – Chris and I going out of our way to take the things that we know about Ashar and put potentially interesting things in her path.
We didn’t set this up like “school movie time.” It’s much more a case of “Hey, whoa, they have a movie version – do you want to see it?” In both these cases, it was a total win.
Lest you think all of our movie watching is of the enriching classical variety, I must mention another recent viewing success.
It’s a scientific classic.
A lesson in relationships, knowledge and technology.
That’s right, I’m talking about Short Circuit, baby! It was always one of my comedy favorites.
Ashar, meanwhile, has been into robots this year. Even so, this wasn’t a case of me thinking, “OOOH, educational value movie.” Mostly, I just thought Ashar would like it.
The thing is, after we watched it, Ashar and I started talking about technology, and about what it means to be “alive,” and about having a soul.
And it really hit home to me, that when I get on my blogging high horse about unschooling and about learning from life, that I still have some unconscious distinctions in my head about what’s “valuable” and what’s “entertainment.”
Pssh. What do I know??
OK, but then came Chris’s choice of one of HIS old comedy favorites, The Goonies. And then I got firmly back on my high horse again and said, “OK, no educational value whatsoever.”
And then Ashar talked to us about what foreclosure is and why people who are different stick together, and I realized I absolutely needed to write something about how amazing movies are for us, and just forget about the “educational” nonsense!
Because, really, have you seen The Lorax? AMAZING. Deep. Insightful. And based on a preschooler’s book!
We have a few things in mind to watch in the coming weeks.
We’ve already seen a couple of clips from From the Earth to the Moon.
I have to give props to Homeschool A/V Guy, aka Chris, here, because I had no idea the clips were from an actual “thing.” So now we’re scoping out a copy of the miniseries; if anyone has a spare, we’d love to put it to use!
And last but not least, Ashar found an illustrated edition of White Fang in Target’s dollar bin this week, and her question after reading the first chapter?
Is there a movie of this?
(As it turns out, there are quite a few, so if you happen to recommend a particular adaptation, I’d welcome your comments!)
What have YOU been watching lately?