Focus on the Family Movie Reviews


Focus on the Family Movie Reviews

Cinema as an Educational Instrument in the Field of the Family and in the School

The "job" of parents

The exercise of a profession –computer engineering, airplane piloting, medicine...– requires several years of preparation –academic completion of a series of subjects, and a certain number of hours of practice– before obtaining the legal title that accredits the training to perform it. Later, one never stops learning if one wants to maintain, or even exceed, one's professional competence.

Paradoxically, these rules barely apply to the practice of parents, who must carry out the difficult task of educating their children. Quite frequently, one has children and begins their formative process without knowing how or why, allowing themselves to be guided, at all times, by common sense, goodwill, and the memory of childhood experiences, which mark one. for better or worse. For example, it is possible that the son of authoritarian parents grants her children, by reaction, excessive freedom, without thinking that her bad experience does not guarantee that the opposite is better for the child.

However, a matter as delicate and of such magnitude as the formation of a person and the orientation of his life towards the fullness cannot be left to improvisation or to the chance of good intentions and the impulses of the heart. Before birth, parents are informed and prepare to receive the child properly, and then systematically go to the pediatrician to guide them in how to accompany their physical growth.

In the same way, it is necessary that they are trained to be able to successfully carry out the enormous and wonderful work of educating children. His oblative love is an indispensable condition for the affective balance of children, but, even though it is the most important thing, it is not enough, since the mission of an educator requires good preparation,

Forming a child “spiritually”, helping him to grow adequately as a person, just as attention is paid to his health and physical development, is an inalienable function of parents that should not be transferred to the school, as is often claimed to be done.

The school obviously has a clear formative function, which appears reflected in its Educational Project and in the Ideology, but, in no way, is it up to the Center to carry out the educational work of the parents.

Currently, there is great concern about the habits of many adolescents regarding alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, school failure, and violent behavior... We lament, and we seek a thousand solutions for this serious and painful social and human problem that affects a large number of families.

But the only really effective formula, and in this matter the agreement is unanimous, is prevention, that is, the integral formation of the child, from the point and time of her birth. This educational process in values ​​is basically the responsibility of the parents, which implies:

  • Live themselves in an ethically valuable way, since values ​​are not "taught" as a doctrine, but rather "discovered" and shared.
  • Train adequately to adequately respond to their role as parents.

A teacher of any subject is the one who masters it and is capable of transmitting it. An educator is one who knows the laws of human development and teaches students what attitudes lead man to his human fullness and which ones will slide him irretrievably toward his spiritual drowning and the destruction of him as a person.

  • Give yourself enthusiastically to your mission as an educator.

The active presence of parents in the child's formation process is necessary and irreplaceable because of the obligation and the right to educate him to correspond primarily to them. There is no time better spent than the one dedicated to children. It is useless for us to provide them with a high level of material goods if later we do not have time to deal with what is essential, which is the person of the child, his human quality, and his personal fulfillment.

  • Do not fall into the temptation of delegating to the school what is the mission and responsibility of the parents.

The school is the place where the child begins and deepens in the different knowledge and becomes capable of participating responsibly in society. But it is not a "parking lot" in which to leave your child when you don't know what to do with him. This attitude undermines the dignity of the school's mission and humiliates the child, turning him into an uncomfortable "object" at certain hours or at certain times of the year. For each problem, there is an appropriate solution, sometimes not the easiest or the most comfortable, but a falsely closed situation can later lead to unforeseeable consequences. The school collaborates with the family in the sense that it provides academic training within the framework of the values ​​and the figure of a man that appears in the Ideology, to broaden, enrich and consolidate the formative process that takes place at home and whose first and fundamental initiative corresponds to the parents. Hence the need to choose the Educational Center with rigorous criteria, consistent with family life.

  • Live the relationship with the school as a fruitful collaboration, not as interference or opposition.

The first commitment of the parents to the school is the very fact of choosing it with serious criteria, that is to say, because they assume its Ideology and trust in its Own Character. Parents must be well informed and willing to collaborate, but always respecting the specific work of teaching professionals and without interfering in what their tasks and responsibility entail. 

Educate Today

The current reality is that educators –in the family and in the school sphere– face serious difficulties in carrying out their mission, due to the terrible pressure of an environment marked by relativism –with its absence of transcendental values ​​and ethical criteria–, the consequent permissiveness and fierce consumerism, which is the paradigm of the maddened race of today's man in search of an elusive happiness that offers itself seductively at every moment but never allows itself to be reached.

Parents and teachers often feel helpless in the face of such profound and rapid changes that society is undergoing, which seem to have rendered the coordinates on which the axes of an ethical life empty of meaning, and they allow themselves to sink into discouragement because They consider their effort useless. However, it is possible –and urgent– to recover the space of these coordinates through solid and exciting humanistic training.

On the basis of this rigorous foundation, it is possible to successfully face the great themes that must be unavoidably present in a personal development project, such as the meaning of life, the relationship with transcendence, solidarity among all men, the connection with the environment, the value of love and family, the prevention of addictions, authentic freedom...

Cinema can be an instrument of the first order for this educational function if it is used with an adequate pedagogical method.

The Cinema, an Educational Instrument

A film script presents a plot, the development of an action. But the action, in itself, does not exist, rather there are some men who act, starring in some events. Now, the behavior of the human being, although it sometimes seems inexplicable, is not accidental, but is governed by an internal logic, so implacable that the only way to prevail over it is a radical change of attitude.

If a person lives withdrawn on himself, dedicated to seeking immediate satisfaction, no matter how much he is in love, he will never be able to create authentic love and he is condemned to live in inner solitude unless his selfishness is changed from the root by an attitude of generosity. and strives to rise to the level of personal encounter.

Under the succession of events that constitute the plot of a film, a penetrating look discovers a life experience with its internal logic, that is, the theme. We must teach children to discover the inner force that governs the development of action so that they learn to know the inexorable consequences of adopting certain attitudes.

Otherwise, if we don't help them delve into the human content of the story, the film is reduced, at best, to a mere pastime. It is not uncommon for a film, seemingly trivial, devoid of strong scenes, to hide a lot of manipulative capacity or harmful influence under the serene layer of its harmless plot. One of the great successes of recent times, The Lord of the Rings, in its third installment, The Return of the King, ends with the triumph of Good over Evil, and presents us with an idyllic world, in which peace and justice reigns and the good achieve eternal happiness.

But, as a transcript of what is offered to us today, it is a world without God. Instead of looking at the provident God who created him out of love, man contemplates himself as egotistical and offers himself a designer pseudo-religion to satisfy his longing for eternity and silence the natural desire for transcendence that the person carries within himself. heart background.

It is wrong to assume that the viewer passively receives the film, due to the fact that he does not explicitly capture features such as the one we have just discussed, because the message reaches him even though he is not aware of it.

All we have to do is pay attention to our own reactions to the screen: we are happy, we laugh, we feel fear, anguish, sorrow, and even cry... The viewer enters into an intense relationship with the conflicts on the screen because, in some way, they identify with them, he delves into the history and is personally part of it, in the depths of his own tastes, desires, desires, and fears. In this sense, good cinema allows us to have a profound human experience that in real life might take us years.

Teaching a child to interpret the story that unfolds in the film is teaching him to interpret life, and to deeply know the human being, and, with this, we make him capable of foreseeing the consequences of his own attitudes and decisions.

In the Sphere of the Family

It is often not easy to find a good opportunity to talk to the children about formative issues, listen to their opinions, doubts, and concerns, analyze them with them, and provide them with guidance keys.

Watching a movie together or reading a story and then discussing them calmly, dedicating all the time necessary to them, is a good resource for helping children delve into deep-seated human issues, reflect on the internal logic of a vital process, analyze the consequences of certain attitudes, and discern what is involved and what is required to achieve personal fulfillment and authentic happiness.

It is a task that should be started very soon, with the first stories that are explained to them and the first children's movies that they see, because the adolescent's dialogue and trust in their parents cannot be improvised, but are the fruit of a personal relationship. fluid cultivated since childhood.

We cannot expect that, in adolescence, when conflicts begin, our children talk to us, confide in us, ask us for advice, and listen to us if, previously, we have not created a committed relationship with them. If it is natural for the child to have regular spaces for reflection with his parents, the adolescent's confidence will arise, when the time comes, spontaneously.

Commenting on the human drama that beats in the deep theme of a good film is a magnificent opportunity for the child to show his doubts and concerns, his hesitations and fears, and his parents can guide him towards his maturation and personal development.

If we help them to grasp the deep human life contained in the stories they see on the screen, we teach them at the same time to interpret life in general and, consequently, to reflect on their own experiential conflicts and to know precisely what laws govern their personal growth.

He who knows how to foresee can prevent and, therefore, avoid all kinds of risks and errors and, in this way, is in a position to correctly guide his life toward personal fulfillment.

Sometimes parents can choose a movie based on a specific topic they want to discuss with their child. As far as possible, it is convenient that they see it beforehand in order to be able to reflect on it, or else they have handled a reliable analysis of it, and have planned the points they want to comment on.

Obviously, it is not about "informing" the child, explaining the background of the film, but, through dialogue, guiding him so that he himself discovers the deep content of the story.

For example, to arouse in the child the will of obedience entrusted to her parents or awaken religious feelings as a personal relationship of love with God, you can see Finding Nemo, through which they will be able to promote his admiration for the father's love, totally generous and willing to forgive, embodied in Marlin, and refer him to his own parents and to God, a good father.

A young mother confided to me one day her concern for one of her ten-year-old sons, with great qualities –among them a privileged intelligence- but with confused and disconcerting attitudes and opinions. The boy had plenty of possibilities to excel in studies and in sports, but he became impatient if he did not quickly reach his goals and was easily discouraged.

On the first occasion, the parents sat down with the child to watch the Walt Disney film, Hercules. While they were looking at her, discreetly so as not to distract him, her father would ask him a question ( "Why are you doing this? What will happen to you now?..."), not to comment on it at that moment, but to focus the child's attention on the issues they wanted to discuss with him.

During dinner, a dialogue was established. The child never had the feeling that he was being "examined" or that he was being given a lesson, because the parents also asked each other questions -through whose answers they discreetly transmitted formative content-, and, in turn, They asked the son for his opinion. 

The three talked at length about the value of tenacity in effort and, spontaneously, the same boy sincerely recognized his lack of perseverance. It was a very firm first step towards a change in attitude.

Frequently, the film that is seen with the children has not been chosen for a specific reason nor could it have been previously prepared. But the fact of commenting on any movie, in addition to being an opportunity to guide children in deep issues of human life, encourages the good habit of reflective and sincere dialogue between parents and children. 

When it is necessary to deal with some difficult and lurid matter -because the parents consider it opportune or because the child needs to ask them a question or confidence-, there will be no difficulty, because they will be used to speaking frankly, with rigor and consideration, of all kinds of matters. topics.

Obviously, this requires, on the part of parents, flexibility in the art of interpreting a situation of human conflict –in a movie or in everyday life–, to help their children discover and value the ethical teaching that it contains or emerges from. her. 

This training of parents to know how to “interpret” and teach their children to discover lessons and values ​​in life itself, stories, events, or their own experiences, is of the utmost importance and the Schools for Parents should dedicate their best efforts to this.

In the Field of School

In a High School, the tutor teacher is directly responsible for monitoring and comprehensive training -relationship with parents and other teachers, academic results, attitudes and values, life project...- of the group of students entrusted to him.

But every day the tutorial work is more difficult and discouraging because adolescents live involved in a social environment marked by hedonism and consumerism, mediocrity or rudeness in most social media, and certain education laws that have banished, in practice, the value of effort and discipline... 

This must be added, often excessively permissive parents, who sometimes come to hinder the educational work of the school. Since childhood, they have accustomed children to see their smallest desires satisfied before formulating them.

Consequently, children have acquired the habit of immediately responding to the calls of their drives and their whims, without referring them to higher values ​​(they drink or "get high" without taking into account the terrible consequences, they demand a thousand things without considering the effort of their parents for getting them...). Nothing really interests them because they have everything.

Many children have, in their own room, all the "luxuries" for their exclusive private use: personal computer, stereo system, television... Thus they do not depend on anyone or have to share with other family members. They have been given a world so easy, so comfortable, and pleasant that they only aspire to "have" as much as possible and enjoy "to the fullest".

That is to say, they have been accustomed to moving exclusively at the level of what is easy, immediate, and pleasant. In these circumstances, maintaining the teaching level and disciplining the school, and ethically training the children appears to be an almost impossible task.

Many teachers are discouraged by this situation because they feel exhausted, disempowered, undervalued, and even mistreated. But we cannot let ourselves be carried away by discouragement because the educator's mission is of unparalleled greatness. Collaborating in the integral formation of young people is a task of the highest dignity. 

Today's young people are extremely jealous of their freedom and do not allow adults to try to influence their ideas and attitudes.

He vigorously defends his opinion, whatever it may be – often, even without having thought it through thoroughly – as something of his own that is very reasonable and valuable that the adult tries to take away from him due to ethical prejudices that he considers obsolete and fortunately overcome. Hence the serious mistake of discussing his ideas, opinions, or attitudes head-on.

Then, he becomes defensive, willing to maintain his position, not so much because he has reasons that justify it, but because it is "his", and he feels attacked by thinking that his own freedom is being attacked.

The cinema is an excellent resource to help the tutor to exercise his noble function of "guide", because, through the analysis of experiences contained in cinematographic works, the youngster obtains a lucid vision of the essential aspects of his life: he discovers the fearsome consequences of adopting certain attitudes, what true freedom consists of, how to fill his life with meaning... It is not the educator who gives him a life lesson, but the youngster himself who discovers it.

The use of cinema as a pedagogical instrument for ethical training in the school environment poses certain demands:

N0. 1:    Choosing the film based on the training objectives that we intend to achieve One should never improvise and project a film, no matter how good it is, that has just fallen into our hands. Everything must be carefully thought out and programmed.

When choosing the film, we must take into account the characteristics of the specific group with which we are going to work: age, training, special circumstances...The film script must not only respond to the objective set in the tutorial programming, but it is essential that the topic affects the vital interests of the students so that they empathize (from the Greek sympathies, 'to have the same feelings as', ' suffer with') with the characters and identify with the human conflict that appears there. In this way they will be able to put it in relation to themselves, that is, they will know how to extract a lesson for their own life.

No. 2:    Give “understanding keys”. Before watching the film, you have to provide them with the necessary orientations so that they are able to carry out a deep reading of the story that they are going to analyze. These "interpretation keys" should not be given as a lesson to be explained, but should be encouraged to discover them in their own experience. 

For example, if our goal is for students to make an effort to establish generous and respectful human relationships, we could choose movies like Shrek, The Ice Age [8], Spider-man [9], Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, My great Greek wedding ...   Previously, we have to work with the students on the modes and levels of reality

A dialogue is established with the group so that they themselves come to discover the following questions:

The mode of reality, for example, of a chair: it is a useful, practical, comfortable "object"... and when it loses these qualities, it is discarded. This type of reality and the attitude of the dominance of man with respect to them constitutes level 1 of reality and behavior, elementary level, that of what is useful, manageable, and possessive.

The mode of the reality of a person: in a certain sense, the person has an "object" dimension, but it is much more, it is a "realm of reality", it is the point of confluence of many other spheres (family, friends, religiosity, studies, sports, hobbies...). She has the capacity for the initiative: I call her and offer her my friend and she responds, I need her and she comes... We can create a meeting relationship. The person is a "field" and, therefore, moves in a valuable level of reality ( level 2 ), which is the level of encounter and creativity.

If we "environment" realities (that is if we give them due respect and raise them to a higher level), we are creative and enrich our lives, because our environment acquires more value for us.

If we "environment" realities (that is if we give them due respect and raise them to a higher level), we are creative and enrich our lives, because our environment acquires more value for us.

If we treat the "fields" as if they were "objects", we practice reductionism, which is extremely cruel (for example, treating a person -which is a very valuable field- as if it were a mere object, typical of the level 1 ), and with it, we impoverish ourselves.

With these data, the students are now in a position to deepen the theme of the film that we have chosen to work with them.

No. 3:    Work in groups with a questionnaire. The teacher previously prepares the questions to discuss in the groups and in the general dialogue. In this way, we avoid falling into mere impressions, since what is involved is not interpreting the plot of the story but its human content, and analyzing it in connection with the situations, worries, concerns, and interests of the students.

Before watching the film, the teacher gives them the questions that they will work on later in the groups. Thus, we help them focus attention on the theme of the story.

No. 4:    General dialogue. From the concrete experience of the film, he reflects on the being of man and the meaning of life. Subsequently, this analysis is applied to the reality of the students, and to the laws that govern their personal development.

The teacher acts as a discreet moderator. He encourages dialogue in a climate of sincerity, freedom, and confidence to express one's own opinions, as well as interest and effort to advance together and achieve the cumulative character that a good discussion should have.

You should avoid questions that, although they ask for an opinion, do not lead to a reflective discussion. For example, if a child is asked what he thinks of the fact that Pinocchio, in the delicious Walt Disney movie, listens to the voices of his tempters and stops going to school, his answer will undoubtedly be simple and superficial. , and will leave little room for discussion. Many colleagues will agree with him and others will have a different opinion, but most likely they will remain merely anecdotal.

The first question should already direct your mind towards reflection (“ Why does Pinocchio listen to Juan and Gideon?” ). The student gives an answer, and we begin a comment on it, in order to progressively elevate ourselves to an increasingly precise analysis of the question investigated. In this way, we get the group to discover the bottom of the subject we are analyzing: it is easy to fall into the deceit of a manipulator because he flatters our instincts, satisfies our desires, and never speaks to our intelligence.

The students have already discovered how a manipulator works. The dialogue continues, now to discover the different forms of manipulation that they themselves suffer, and thus learn to be alert, to be jealous of their freedom, and not to let themselves be controlled.

The basic idea of ​​the methodology is that the tutor does not instill the knowledge in the students, but they themselves discover it through reflection and analysis of the human experiences contained in the films.

No. 5:    Evaluation of the activity. It is not an easy task, as we know, to evaluate an area whose objectives are mainly of a formative nature. However, the teacher must monitor the progress of each student, the group in general, and the activities themselves that are carried out.

The great 19th-century French writer Victor Hugo gave us this dire warning: “Don't forget this: There are no weeds or bad men; there are only bad cultivators.” The children of today are the men of the third millennium, in a world in constant and rapid transformation, which almost escapes our ability to predict. The only solution is to train them well. This is the challenge; this is our responsibility.

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