Again, again!

There was an online unschooling chat in April 2011 about movies, what can be gained from them, and the idea of repeat viewings came up.

Frank Maier said a couple of really helpful things in the discussion, and I wanted to put them here. Near the bottom of the page are some comments and ideas about younger children, and other repeats.

About movies, Frank wrote:

"I think movies are are pretty close to a complete insight into the human condition."
          and
"I still re-watch favorite movies, re-read favorite books, stare at favorite art, etc.... I blogged about that... A great movie, book, etc. will always give you something new, even after repeated viewings."

Here is the blog post Frank referenced:


"What is art?" asked jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer.

Two related concepts have been on my mind lately. Traditional, culturally-indoctrinated parents frequently: 1. parrot the belief that TV rots your brain, and 2. ask "Why does my child want to re-watch the same movie or TV show again and again?"

1. Thinking about "TV rots your brain!" I wonder why I've never heard anyone say, "Books rot your brain!" or "Art rots your brain!" or "Music rots your brain!" or "Math rots your brain!" Well, they do say that about music they personally dislike. Oops, waitaminit. Come to think of it, they also say that about books they dislike, e.g. "Why are you reading that trash?" and about art they dislike, like manga, comics, etc. and because they've mostly come up through our American education system, they've endured the curriculum version of math and all they know is that they mostly never wanna think about math again, which is very sad because real math is as beautiful as any sonata, sonnet, or serigraph. But that's another post.

So, distilling that concept down to its root, parents who say these things have their own opinion of the value of an exemplar of a medium and are quite ready to impose that value judgment on their children's apprehension of that medium or a particular genre of the medium. In the case of TV, our cultural bias is that "TV rots your brain (period)" and, having swallowed that bias hook, line, and sinker, those parents are only too happy to impose that belief on their children, despite their own experience that there are many TV events which they consider good (valuable, worthwhile, or any other POSITIVE value judgment which they impose from their own prejudice on that particular piece) while they simultaneously denigrate the entire medium.

I ask if it's logical or fair for you to be wildly anticipating the next episode of 24, which I detest and would therefore define as bad (imposing my value judgment on it) while bemoaning your child's anticipation for the next episode of [insert the show they like but you detest here].

Society's valuation of any given medium or work in that medium is not The Truth. Your personal valuation of any given medium or work in that medium is not The Truth. My personal valuation of any given medium or work in that medium is not The Truth. [O ye gods and goddesses of spacetime!, how it hurts to say that.] Let your kids have their own experience, apprehension, and appreciation of art. All forms of art. I know you'd like me to grant you that same courtesy.

2. Thinking about repeatedly revisiting the same work in a given medium, would you complain about an art aficionado wanting to look at Filippo Lippi's (Fra Lippo Lippi) Pala Barbadori more than once? A literary lion wanting to re-read Milton's Paradise Lost? A music maven wanting to attend multiple presentations of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony? A cinema connoisseur watching Rashomon for the nth time? Would you say to them, in that cynical, offended, martyred tone you use with your kids, "Again?"

You (the generic "you") accept those repeated viewings as sensible and worthwhile, dontcha? Why, then, would you deny your child the opportunity to re-view something which speaks to her/him the way these items speak to their fans? Clearly, someone revisiting a work of art (and I definitely include TV shows and movies in that phrase) is getting something out of it. Maybe they're distilling an amazing new insight at the level of a personal epiphany or maybe, just maybe, they enjoy that particular work so much that they delight in revisiting it for the simple pleasure it gives them. Isn't that reason enough?

Enjoy your life and the beauty (and learning) all around you in its multitudinous guises and, please, grant your kids the same boon even if their taste differs from yours.

Lippi's Pala Barbadori, which I like. YMMV. That's ok. (wink)

Frank Maier's "What is art?" asked jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer.
Click to go to the original post and its comments (and perhaps to add your own).

In early 2014, Karen James answered a simple question with a list of good answers:
***What is there to learn from watching barbie movies over and over?***

Sometimes the comment "over and over" can come across a bit belittling like someone is stuck in a loop. Finding ways to rephrase things in your own mind will help you see more clearly what your children are actually gaining from the activities they are choosing to participate in.

Your child likes to re-watch certain movies many times. Likely every time brings a new experience, something gained, something learned. Some of the things I could imagine a child gaining from watching things multiple times might be:

  • Understanding the story line better. Understanding the structure of story lines in general better.

  • Familiarizing of songs, dancing, dialogue, sets, costume, and/or character and character development.

  • For some people, memorization is very satisfying, and it gives a sense of accomplishment (and can be thrilling, even) to be able to recite lines from songs or dialogue.

  • Watching anything repeatedly can be a valuable means to remembering information. We understand that, but children are learning how useful that can be for them.

  • Listening to dialogue expands vocabulary. Knowing what dialogue is coming up next, helps the listener focus on the nuances of the dialogue and not just the words—body language, intonation, contrast between characters, moods.

  • Some children like to watch things that are scary or dramatic or difficult in some way many times because each time allows them to have some predictability over what is coming up next, and a sense of accomplishment in facing known fears and dealing with them.

  • It might also be true that between the time the video was watched the first time and the next, something else might have happened in the child's life, giving them a new context in which to view the video again. A relevant model of the world can be built by making new connections between experiences.
Finally, there might be something particularly interesting in the video. That would be valuable for the parent to know, so that she could bring more of that interest into the child's world to explore. That's why watching videos with the child whenever possible is such a valuable resource for building a rich and relevant learning environment.

Karen


Here is a list of things some people have watched, listened to, read repeatedly (more than three times):
Barbie movies
favorite paintings
Queen's Greatest Hits
calendar art (sometimes they save the calendar)
The Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Gone with the Wind

Shakespeare and unschoolers Art (some of which is animation) TV and Video

Book Worship Movies "Input Please!"