Didactic Implications of Children’s Literature

Didactic Implications of Children’s Literature

English, Children’s Literary Essay. In the debate regarding the didactic implications of Children’s literature and the worry it has caused adults, one must link the popularity and success of subversive literature to the argument. Alison Laurie, in her book ‘Don’t tell the grown ups’ says that the greatest works of juvenile literature are subversive and disregard the ideas and emotions generally approved or recognised at the time they were conceived. The typical subversive text blurs the lines of didacticism and entertainment, despite this; the message in even the most subversive of texts is often ethical in some way.

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The 2010 film ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ demonstrates the both subversion and moralistic teachings, the film doesn’t characterise itself into a specific genre, detaching it as stand-alone film. Spike Jonze uses unconventional film techniques to establish the protagonist and to communicate the moral of the film through unconventional means. It is often argued that children’s texts are written and designed to communicate directives, or moral lessons. Texts should communicate positive instructions, which guide the child through morally hard choices in life.

This being the case, adults have traditionally worried about the didactic implications of children’s literature and its capacity to send subversive messages to children. One would then assume that the best selling children’s books contain what parents would consider to be the ‘best’ didactic implications for their child. However, more successful children’s literature, or certainly the most popular, is subversive of contemporary adult and societal expectations for children.

The most enduring texts will often challenge authority and ‘make fun’ of generally accepted views on society or conventions. Alison Lurie argues that successful children’s literature will celebrate that which adults want to eliminate from their children’s behaviour, such as: “daydreaming, disobedience, answering back, running away from home, and concealing one’s private thoughts and feelings from unsympathetic grown-ups”. (Alison Laurie, Don’t Tell The Grown Ups, pg 72) In subversive children’s literature, the line is blurred between instruction and entertainment.

Most of these subversive texts are written purely for children’s entertainment and hold no didactic implications, whereas others will entertain while they teach with the moral of the story still quite clear. Typically in subversive children’s texts, the child protagonist will create his own world. It is plain for the child to see that the adult world is complicated and far from perfect, so these ‘imaginary-worlds’ help them make sense of the world around them. This can be demonstrated in the film ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ when Max travels to his own imaginary world.

The difference is the children are often in control and adults have little or no authority. They subvert the adult world by making impossible things possible, or defying established laws and facts. These are the implications that worry adults; they worry that in these made up worlds, fact becomes fiction, and fiction fact where the parent does not want their child to get the two mixed up in the real world. However, as Maria Tater writes, in her book ‘Off with their heads! : fairy tales and the culture of childhood’, subversive texts characteristically imply that what matters in the world is art, imagination and truth.

In what we call the real world, on the other hand, importance and social value is often placed most highly on money, power and fame. So then, even the most subversive children’s texts are didactic to some extent. (The Subversive Children’s Literature Homepage, http://students. english. ilstu. edu/jmfrase/finalproject/finalprojecthome. html) The 2010 Film ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, by Spike Jonze, can be seen as neither fully didactic, nor entirely subversive. The text seems to have its own category wherein it is a mix of the two.

In saying this, the text exemplifies subversion on numerous occasions like when Max, the protagonist, acts childishly in a fit of temper. Throughout the film Max is seen to be lonely, and it seems, as a result, he reacts in a way that goes against typical child’s behaviour displayed in children’s literature. The subversion manifests however, when Max creates his own world in his imagination; in this world he is the ruler or ‘king’ and he is above the law. This is in contrast to societal messages provided to children wherein they are to trust adults for advice, and must always follow the rules provided.

Upon closer inspection however, one can comprehend the educational implications of the characters Max has made up which represent different aspects of his own life. Spike Jones uses Max’s imaginary characters as a means by which we begin to understand Max. This imaginary world is used to conquer Max’s problems in the adult world. This is common within subversive texts, but the characters are instructionally moralistic by the way they guide Max to discover his unreasonable infantile behaviour. Max watches in third person as the plot of his imaginary world is unfolds, and he teaches himself lessons by teaching them to the imaginary characters.

Teaching children to view a situation from a different perspective than that of their own demonstrates the didacticism of this text. Change is one of the central themes of the text; Max comes to terms with ‘change’ by teaching Carroll (the most prominent imaginary character representing Max), that change can be a good thing when you look at it from the perspective of K. W. ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ is both subversive and didactic within the standards of modern children’s literature. Towards its end, the film becomes more moralistic than subversive.

The metaphor of travel to and from the imaginary island in the makeshift vessel is significant to this statement. Following a dispute between Max and his mother, he runs away from home, howling and screaming that “It’s not my fault! ” After biting her. This scene itself is exceedingly subversive, but it isn’t until the music changes to a fast tempo and the camera switches viewpoints in time with the running of the protagonist that the children start to really get excited. The concept of running away from home seen as a fun adventure to innocent children viewing the film, which subverts any attitude modern society has on a healthy family.

It would be typically assumed that the didactic implications of this scene might worry a parent watching it with their child, furthermore that the child doesn’t consequently develop any ‘bad ideas’. Throughout this subversive scene, the excitement dies down when Max actually sets sail to his imaginary world. He encounters extraordinary weather and severe storms, which change any sense of direction he had. Spike Jones uses this to represent that Max is confused and doesn’t know where he is heading, however a reference to Shakespeare is also in play where a storm symbolises that things will not be as they seem.

The scene graduates from the excitement of running away, to the confusion and chaos it promises, but by no means does it become didactic. For the moment it is purely entertaining and it isn’t until the parallel scene at the end of the film where the didacticism is evident. In this scene where Max is re-entering his ‘boat’, the music is calm, almost soothing, the sun is setting beautifully, and the ocean water is calm with no wind. Upon descent the vessel sails at a slow but steady pace in an exact direction.

This represents a peace of mind for Max, that he knows exactly where he is going and he has learned to reason, learned to be compassionate for others rather then selfish, most essentially though, he is content with his own decisions. Therefore it can be seen that the film ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, by Spike Jones, is neither didactic nor subversive, but a mixture of both. On the surface it seems that the morals of the film are lost through the subversion of the filming mechanics however, within every text there is some didactic grounding whether that be based on societal values.

In saying this some texts do lose their purpose and meaning due to their drive to entertain the audience. In short, ‘where the wild things’ are retains the morals of the story: home is where the heart is, and most importantly, change can be a good thing. Conclusion, Why is it important that it is both didactic and subversive and what does that tell us??? Subversive method for didactic results Point one, break down the two quotations, what point they are trying to get across, what they mean. talk about why adults worry about things in childrens literature that are subversive, make them ‘naughty’.

Talk about the contrary point that this being the case, the most successful (the ones children like the most) are the ones that are subversive and the ones children connect to are the ‘naughty’ ones. The moral is what worry adults. Is my child being taught the right thing, is the positive message being portrayed to my child. The books that challenge common conventions are most popular, subversive. How do these statements relate to where the wild things are. What does the film say about these statements through these elements. Themes characterization techniques. ””In the 2010 film “where the wild things are” spike jones represented””” Not scocietal values, rather the expectations, if a kid brakes the rules, not a bad kid just naughty. Ultimately the best books uphold morall values. Music, happy exciting adventure. Kids think this is exciting and good fun to run away. Theres evident in the movie… subversiv Coming home, the didactic with a moral ie, lessons learned , fairness, compassion for others, not selfish. Coming home, smooth sailing happy music, child feels content with own decisions. Both didactic and subversive.

Which scene is subversive, which scene is didactic. Example. Techniques, how the music adds to the trauma, and how at the start the music is all banging wheras towards the end it is calm. Found the answer. How do I introduce techniques, the scene about the boat, didactic or subversive? Its all filmed through the eyes of max, didactic or subversive? Conclusion, Why is it important that it is both didactic and subversive and what does that tell us??? Thesis, that where the wild things are is both didactic and subversive. The way they go about it is subversive, only the expectations of the behaviour of children.

Not the morals and values, great literature lasts because it is valued morally through the ages. Attacks expectations of children, values are upheld, in a reoundabout way! Where The Wild Things Are was so controversial because of the subversive didactic implications in the film. Parents worry when their child watches the main character of a film disobey direct orders from his mother and even goes to the extent of being a ‘smart-ass’ to her. The fact that he gets away with this and much more is a worry that it might give the children a bad idea. Revolutionary movements in Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Cuba and the U. S. emphasized the importance of literacy and education for its youth. Major radical publishers had children’s departments and heated debates over expectations and development of socialist character traits raged within parties and in radical newspapers. ” http://www. marxists. org/subject/art/literature/children/index. htm “”The children’s book is one of the most powerful weapons of the socialist character-education of the growing generation”. Nadezhada K. Krupskaya

Children in subversive texts are wise to the fact that the adult world is far from perfect. Child protagonists often create their own worlds–fantasylands–to be able to live how they want to live. The ones to trust in these worlds are your peers. Your peers are in the same boat you are, and have no power over you. Another way books show they mistrust the adult world is by subverting “natural” laws adults seem to value. For instance, Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse subverts adult knowledge by giving wrong answers to math problems. own decisions. Alison laurie talks about subversive, blue page. ttp://students. english. ilstu. edu/jmfrase/finalproject/finalprojecthome. html http://www. nytimes. com/books/98/07/12/specials/lurie-subversion. html references http://books. google. com. au/books? id=azyl6R-oSSMC&pg=PA239&lpg=PA239&dq=daydreaming,+disobedience,+answering+back,+running+away+from+home,+and+concealing+one’s+private+thoughts+and+feelings+from+unsympathetic+grown-ups&source=bl&ots=oJE8yZ6UR6&sig=LJhJgHXbr_blARIE0rBk2Xh3hf4&hl=en&ei=PZtVTqflGebkmAXq0bAC&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=daydreaming%2C%20disobedience%2C%20answe


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