Sometimes I would just like to turn my teacher brain off. Actually, I think my family would like this even more than I would. Last night we took our kids to see the movie Monsters University. Of all the kids' movies I've seen trailers for lately, it wasn't high on my list of movies I wanted to see, but we were supposed to go to day 2 of the Thunder Bay Blues Fest and there was an awful lot of rain so we headed to the movie instead. Incidentally, this was a good choice as we nearly drowned on our way out of the theatre because it was raining so hard. We actually saw some women standing in water half way up their shins, getting into their car. Anyway, I digress. Back to Monsters University. (Disclaimer: I've never seen Monsters, Inc.)
It starts with Mike, the tiny, cute, green eyeball, er, monster who is on a class field trip for a little experiential learning and career exploration. They are there to see "Scarers" in action. Frustrated and pushed to the back of the group, Mike can't see anything that's going on and his teacher doesn't help him out in any way. (This led me to do some self-exploration of my own practice over the years and to think about some actions/attitudes to be sure to avoid in the future.) Mike finds his own way to find out what's going on by breaking all of the rules set out for him by the adults involved. He has a real learning experience because he chooses not to be limited by the boundaries and his education/career/life pathway is set! Mike is going to be a Scarer.
Fast forward 8 or 10 years and Mike arrives at Monsters University where he is ready to work hard to reach his goal. He meets Sulley, who is riding the coat tails of his family of famous Scarers. We learn a great deal about fixed vs. growth mind-sets through the challenges faced by these two and their Oozma Kappa (OK) fraternity brothers/teammates. There was nothing they couldn't accomplish through hard work and collaboration. There was a clear cheating doesn't pay lesson and we learned that sometimes things don't turn out the way we had planned but that different pathways can get us to the same destination. I spent the entire movie thinking, "This part would be good for my first-day-of-school pep talk," and, "Erin might want to use this part in Career Studies," and, "This part could be used as our staff explores growth mindsets next year."
Then after the movie we had our usual family conversation. After the usual, "Did you like it?" "What parts did you like best?" "Was there anything you didn't like?" each followed, of course, by "Why" questions that I always ask after the movies came the next one that I always ask: "So did you learn anything from this movie?" My 10-year-old son prefers not to engage in these conversations (he's the one who most wishes my teacher-brain had an on-off switch) so he answered "No" right away. My 7-year-old daughter hasn't caught on to this avoidance technique yet. She still indulges me. She learned that, "Just because you come from a family of Scarers, or a family of something or anything, it doesn't mean you're going to be good at it. Just being big and strong doesn't make you good a something. You have to face your fears and work hard." Not bad learning for one evening in July, I'd say.
So that was our first family learning experience this summer. Next week, at the request of my 10-year-old, we will be visiting the a nuclear plant. He assured me there is a visitors' centre (confirmed by my brother who works there.) I'll let you know what we learned.
More immediately though, tonight we will be attending Day 3 of the music festival no matter what the weather brings. We will NOT miss Great Big Sea. I guess if it rains my kids will learn a little more about overcoming adversity, because I won't be listening to any whining or complaining...