From "The Hannah Montana Movie" to "Angels and Demons," from "X-Men Origins" to "Star Trek," the summer blockbuster movie line-up suggests a wild ride this year. The way our movie rating system works, it's clear which movies are appropriate for younger kids (G/PG) and older kids (PG-13/R). But what about the kids in the middle?
Since I teach middle school, this topic worries me a lot. I have conversations in class where I'm trying to compare something in older literature to something more modern to which the students can relate. Then, I make the comment, "Oh, but you aren't old enough to see that yet." ALWAYS someone says, "Oh yes, I have seen it already." All I can do is shake my head and move on.
What many parents and teachers do not know is that gifted students have a different kind of filter on their five senses. This new CGI is even more stimulating to a gifted person who gets excited during the "Star Wars" X-Wing fighter battle and terrified during a gruesome scene in "Saw." As brain cells flash faster in a gifted person's mind, there's no going back once some of these moments have been seen, heard, and felt in movies. Gifted and creative people are more likely to "live" the movie instead of just watching the movie. Their hearts break more deeply, their sadness is more depressing, and their comedic laughter is more effervescent.
Therefore, I am compelled to advocate for our young "middle-aged" students, usually grades 5 to 7. To both parents and teachers, choose these movies wisely. PG-13 is "13" for a reason, and not all moments are even suitable for 13-year-olds.
Teachers should really rethink the decision to get parents waivers to show movies with unsuitable ratings for their students. Besides, sometimes it is more appropriate to show clips of movies. Teachers shouldn't always take the time to show the entire two-hour movie. Clips can be chosen purposefully and carefully, which solves our initial problem of appropriateness for students.
On the other hand, choosing appropriate, inspiring movies that encourage students to be empathetic to the world around them is EXACTLY what gifted students need. Not only can we move their hearts, but we can inspire them to go out and do some good in our world. "Music from the Heart" is a great movie to encourage our young musicians to keep practicing. "Stand and Deliver" can inspire young mathematicians in all walks of life - even during testing time. "Rudy" or "Remember the Titans" are great choices for the classroom to inspire perseverance and leadership.
To all the adults who are in a position to shape a child's mind, please choose wisely!