Watching movies is not a chronic waste of time, as many parents are prone to believe, taking away from other more meaningful activities like reading or playing board games. Contrary to popular belief ‘Movies’ are more than simply entertainment bringing zero value to the table. Watching movies can be a meaningful literary activity, honing emotions and developing inner values like empathy, courage, kindness and resourcefulness in our kids. The trick lies not so much in WHAT you watch but rather in HOW you watch it.
The Benefits of watching movies I believe, are myriad
- Language building: For children who, let’s face it, are unlikely to read, no matter how you push and tug at them; films help them ideate and put words in their heads. They will pick up good, functional and even beautiful language from a well made film.
- Personality development: Films showcase a range of personality types that grow and morph into magical beings or dark souls based on the events they are experiencing. These emotional journeys speak to us at very personal levels and can fill gaps in our own psyche that help us relate and connect to the world more intimately.
- Expanding reality and Imaginative thinking: Fiction shows us possibilities; the Mars landing, or wars fought amongst the stars, pushing the limits of our thinking. Real life stories show us the capacity for human triumph and the depths we can plumb. These polarities speak to us in ways that perhaps our daily life cannot, permanently changing the landscape of our minds with each story and each picturisation.
- Movies show us worlds we can only imagine; Tatooine in Star Wars, Vulcan in Star Trek and prehistoric Earth In Jurassic world. We can also walk on streets of cities and countries far removed from our own, while sitting in one place.
- Character building: If you cried on the beaches of Dunkirk or marveled at Stephen Hawking’s miraculous turbulent life, if you can feel the pain of victims of war and empathise with both sides when you watch ‘Flags of our fathers’ ( American version) and ‘letters from Iwogima’ ( the Japanese side of the same story) you are building that most important 21 century skill ‘perspectival thinking’. If you choose to stand up with pride listening to your national anthem because you watched Gandhi and realise at what cost your freedom of today came, you are developing national character. If the horrors of slavery are brought alive when you watch ‘12 Years a Slave’, maybe you will never stand by and watch one set of people enslave another because your conscience has been awakened never to sleep again.
As a teacher I have always told parents to watch movies with their children, to ask questions and discuss each film to its bone. Choose wisely what you watch but include every genre. Cry if you can and laugh loudly, appreciate goodness, friendship, love and sacrifice, show these to your children and make Movie watching the best learning experience of your lives. You’ll never regret it and that magic will set your children aglow.