Long ago, there was a goddess named Te Fiti who had the power to create life, until one day a shape-shifting demigod named Maui stole the heart from inside her. A thousand years later, Moana is the daughter of the chief of the Island of Motunui. She has been told all her life that her destiny is to remain where she is and become the next chief. But the ocean has been calling to her ever since she was a little girl and now it’s up to Moana to set sail and save her island for something magical and sinister is destroying all their food. Moana must travel beyond the safety of the reef to find the seemingly self-centered “demiguy” Maui and restore Te Fiti’s heart and bring life back to her island.
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Moana, Disney’s 3D animated fantasy adventure film, was released in 2016. Starring the voices of Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, with a song writing team including Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, Moana burst onto the screen with magic, catchy tunes, and an unforgettable heroine.
The film explores themes of identity and the importance of finding one’s own place in the world. It also shows its titular female protagonist as possessing inner strength and resourcefulness, and she is shown in the climax of the film achieving her goal through kindness and understanding rather than resolving her problems with violence, making Moana a role model for girls and boys alike.
Identity is a central theme in Moana. How do you think each of the main characters sees themselves at the start of the film vs. the end? Do their perceptions of themselves (and therefore others) change throughout the film? How so?
Well-rounded characters have both strengths and flaws. For example, Maui is both vain and heroic at the same time. What do you think Moana’s strengths and flaws might be?
Moana’s grandmother encourages Moana to listen to her own heart and leave the island, which leads to Moana saving her people. By contrast, Moana’s father continually forbids her to ever leave the island out of a desire to protect her. What do you think the film might be trying to say about allowing young people to make their own choices?
Diverse representation is important and Moana features not only diverse characters but diversity in its casting. The filmmakers have been criticized, however, for cultural appropriation and utilizing stereotypes in the film. How, then, do you think we should weigh the pros and cons of films like this?
We bat around many concepts related to education as homeschoolers. We look for the perfect philosophy to bring a joy-filled, academically sound learning experience to our kids.
What causes the “aha!” to happen? How can we ensure our kids retain what they learn (not just master it for a moment)?
Brain research shows that there are specific properties that lead to the best kind of learning: making meaning for oneself. I talk about that research and the practices in this podcast (and part two next week). Please join me!
What’s actually happening in a student’s brain and why is understanding it important?
The body and mind are deeply interconnected. Sometimes we refer to different learning styles, such as kinesthetic or visual learners, and this is giving a nod to the concept that learning comes through various portals in a person. So incorporating a child’s body isn’t just for fun – it’s good education!
The brain is social. There is a Myth of Independence that all homeschooling parents are looking for; they want their kids to do work without help from them, and they believe that that is somehow a superior model.
The search for meaning is innate. All kids innately want to create and find meaning, but you have to create meaning that they can understand at their level. You can’t tell a seven-year-old that studying his math will be helpful when he’s 18.
The search for meaning occurs through patterning, which means you are creating interconnections and setting patterns of thought with everything you do throughout childhood. Our goal isn’t to tell our children our thoughts and ideas so that they assimilate them – we want to create opportunities for them to develop self-inquiry!
Emotions are critical to patterning. Emotions are often the spark our brains need to ignite meaning.
The brain processes parts and wholes simultaneously. For example: it’s impossible to learn to write if all you focus on is grammar and mechanics, as the point of writing is communicating what you have to say. But on the flip side, if you only learn to develop what you have to say, you’ll never be able to effectively communicate your thoughts through writing.
Complex learning depends on relaxed alertness. Is it possible to learn when you’re under stress, being threatened with punishments, or being told you’ll never amount to anything? No! So when you see stress bubble up in your family, change the dynamic. Maybe go outside, or start an impromptu poetry teatime.
Rigorous thinking Socratic method problem-based learning work is important. What does that mouthful mean? Our kids have a profound boost of intrinsic motivation when they are treated as a person who has something to say. So if we’re interested in our children’s thoughts, we will participate in their world… even if it’s a world that’s not interesting to us.
Also would you get the word out? I feel this is such important information for us as homeschoolers. Let’s haggle less over whether we “unschool” or “classically educate” and focus instead on the learning transaction. What does that look like and how can we see more of that happen? That’s what this episode is all about.
Please post a review on iTunes for us (here’s a handy guide)? Help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey. Thanks!
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This month’s Brave Writer Lifestyle focus is: Nature Study. June is a great time of year to get outside: whether it’s the start of summer in the northern hemisphere or the end of fall in the southern hemisphere.
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Plan a trip to a local museum or art fair and enjoy all the ways paintings and sculptures can enrich your family life!
January: Read Aloud February: TV & Film March: Big, Juicy Conversations April: Poetry Teatime May: Art Appreciation June: Nature Journaling July: One on One Time August: Language Games September: Copywork October: Freewriting November: Shakespeare December: Celebrate!
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