Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pure imagination

One of my favorite movies of all time is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  And wouldn't you know it.  Last night, #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate) chat used this movie in honor of the passing of Gene Wilder (Here's the link from participate.com).  There are many favorite scenes- "bad egg" Veruca and fuzzy lifting drinks come to mind- but my favorite by far is when Gene Wilder sings "Pure Imagination".

(from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", 1971)

There are four main points that capture my attention in the movie that relate to school so I thought that I'd share them with you.

1,  Provide opportunities
We need to provide opportunities for students to learn about things they are interested in.  When Willy Wonka allows the children to run around and taste the different edible parts of his factory, did you notice that none of them, not even their parents, go to check out the same thing?  We need to give students choice and the opportunity to learn about things that interest them.  As the lyrics say, "Want to change the world?  There's nothing to it."  Don't be that teacher who stifles a learning experience.  Foster it!
(from salemsox.mlblogs.com)

2.  Delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is something that we all need to think about.  Each of the children, except for Charlie Bucket, had to have whatever they wanted now.  None of them had a struggle along the way as the family member with them on the factory tour just couldn't say know.  And they all wanted something- Augustus Gloop had to have chocolate, Violet Beauregarde had to have gum, Veruca Salt had to have a golden goose, and Mike Teavee had to be the first broadcast on TV.  Only Charlie was happy with the tour, and maybe some fizzy lifting drinks because Grandpa Joe urged him on.  All of us learn by struggling.
(from www.macrumors.com)

3.  Recognize those who do the right thing
Throughout the entire movie, Charlie is always concerned about the other people in his life.  He provides for his family, follows the rules in the factory (Except for fizzy lifting drinks.  But who doesn't like fizzy lifting drinks?), and even returns the Everlasting Gobstopper to Willy Wonka in one of the final scenes.  Grandpa Joe even wants to give the Gobstopper to Slugworth to make some money.  But Charlie does the right thing, returns the Gobstopper, and the factory is his.
(from allthingsfadra.com)

4.  Take a chance
In the final scene, Charlie has the opportunity to press the only button in the Wonkevator that Willy hasn't yet tried.  It is quite a risk as even Willy doesn't know what will happen.  The button is pushed and the anticipation grows until finally the Wonkevator breaks through the ceiling.  The scene ends with this wonderful monologue.  "But Charlie.  Don't forget what happened to the man who finally got everything he wanted.  He lived happily ever after."

(from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", 1971)

Now don't think that I'm suggesting that we give out candy or equate a school with a factory.  But I really think that we can make school more like the movie by providing opportunities, delaying gratification by letting students struggle, recognizing when students and staff do the right thing, and taking chances.  I encourage you as you return to school this year, and every day thereafter, to help make school like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  The kids will have fun, will thank you, and will learn more than you can imagine.

Be the one!