I found my eight year old son crying…not earth shattering news. Right? Except that he was crying from the realization of the message being furthered in the movie The Lorax (Universal Studios). March 2nd, was Dr. Seuss’ birthday and for me that means the onset of teaching a bit of history coupled with science and the ideals of capitalism. Since Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite author’s, what better choice than The Lorax (book) as it makes Its debut in movie theaters on the birth day of Dr. Seuss. While Hollywood has the capability to capture children and parents for profit, I like to think I can take advantage of the hype to engage my eight year old son with literature, history, conservation and capitalism. We kicked off our month using Dr. Seuss as a springboard to our studies…
In our small community in the Sierra mountains lives a partnership between the University of California-Davis on the Sierra Nevada College campus and the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno/Las Vegas. The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences houses this partnership right here in Incline Village, Nevada. It’s a scientific research center for the understanding of alpine lakes and the preservation of the environmental quality for our important resources (www.sierranevada.edu). Sierra Nevada students have teamed up to further develop ideas for sustainability in our very delicate environment, where ‘Aquaponics’ has gone fishy! Sounds like a Seuss theme in there–somewhere. In fact, The ‘Aquaponics’ Greenhouse is a self-contained agricultural system for growing plants and raising fish in a symbiotic relationship. (Jason Paladino, The Eagle’s Eye, http://www.sierranevada.edu/UserFiles/file/ENG/EE/EE_02_16_12.pdf). Our small community’s sustainability realizes the impact of high tourism and an influx of families moving to our area, therefore, ideas for less impact on our forest and lake are viable concerns.
Having read Seuss’ The Lorax numerous times with my son the past eight years of his life, I decided to look beyond reading for rhythm and start talking Seuss’ themes. How to deliver it to the developmental level of a child is always the challenge and who better to rely upon than the experts in Hollywood. Yes. I said it. I canned Hollywood as ‘experts.’ I’m fully aware of the controversy surrounding this statement, but rest assured, I take the time to expel the truth of using children for capitalistic gain with my own kids. I’d rather begin unraveling the tangled web of trust through mediums children are exposed–movies, television, advertisements, and radio (does that even exist anymore?)–than have them learn to rely on the messages they’re fed.
My son, Otto, and I spent our morning hovering over the ‘aquaponics’ greenhouse invention and decided we needed an in depth tour. Our journey led us to the Department Chair of Science and Technology studies and she was very helpful with references to help guide our yearning for knowledge. We came home and together constructed emails to everyone involved, asking for tours of their facility. The response from students and professors was quick, as were invited to chat further about Lake Tahoe itself from our local lake biologist. We are excited to get started, but had to schedule the tours.
While Otto was able to feel the process for organizing his own learning, he was not satisfied to “call it day.” So, we headed to Carson City, The Lorax book in hand, and straight to the theater where the movie was making its debut. Aside from the fantastical bombardment to our senses with the 3-D effects, the story’s theme hit home with him. During the movie Otto continued to ask, Mommy, are you crying? I responded that I certainly could cry, but I wasn’t actually at that point. Never during the movie did I think my eight year old son was crying himself. It was only when we got outside I noticed his red, puffy eyes and I asked him, Otto, did you cry? He nodded yes. I was so excited I wanted to jump for joy, but I managed to eek out, What parts made you cry? He explained the two scenes, which in retrospect were powerful, but an oversight on my behalf. I suppose over the years I’ve grown a thick skin to the ideas that could essentially destroy our way of life and the potential for tainted and irresponsible choices. The fact that Otto was moved to tears by Dr. Seuss’ themes stands to represent the importance for teaching them.
These were the ideas we talked about during our drive home. A strong reminder that when parents take the time to teach an idea, its meaning can have a powerful impact and more likely than not, that idea is furthered. Rather than begging me for a Lorax toy, the remainder of our afternoon together was spent talking about sustainability where we live and the power of human choice.
Mom, Educator at Home