Lesson Plans: Week 38 – 2nd Week of June
I’ll never forget the time I went to see “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” when it was adapted as a live musical on Broadway. I was living in New York City. Well, actually, I had an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, but if you’re from New York, you know what I mean. I had a friend named Susan who was able to get tickets for Broadway shows at extremely reduced prices and I went whenever she had any available.
Susan, wherever you are, thank you. Because of you I saw practically every new show that came to Broadway and that was just one reason living in New York was so much fun.
One Saturday afternoon, I found myself perched in the balcony watching a matinée, “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney’s version. It was the first afternoon performance during previews and I hadn’t realized I was in the kiddie section, not that it would have mattered. The play had just begun and Belle skipped onstage for her first scene with her father. The “Live Belle” had a line, “Papa, do you think I’m pretty?” which she delivered with a pause before the word “pretty.” The “Belle” of the movie delivers the same line without a pause. A balcony full of tiny Matinée Belles delivered the line as in the movie with the same sweet, lyrical inflection. The balcony chorus jumped the pause and issued the question that resonates for all of us Belles, young and old, “Papa, do you think I’m pretty?” Live Belle, startled, broke character and briefly glanced up at the balcony. Competition.
Now, you may be a jaded kind of person. Maybe you’re even a jaded New Yorker. You may be a literature purist who cringes every time you see Disney’s Jungle Book. You may think Disneyland is an overpriced homage to commercialism. You may, like me, take enormous pleasure in Carl Hiaasen’s book, Team Rodent, an indictment of the Disney culture and its impact on Florida. It’s one of the funniest books he’s written and he’s a very funny guy.
None of that matters. As I sat in the balcony of a theater on the Great White Way one dreary Saturday afternoon, I realized Walt and his company touched a deep nerve that Carl Jung would envy. Disney films resonate for us, even the youngest among us.
So, you ask, what does this have to do with lesson plans for the last week of school?
I’m showing Disney SingAlong videos. Yep. In Library Class. Some of the most strident educators will say we still have a week of instruction left. Very true. Kids should never stop learning. Even truer. I kind of feel guilty, but I shouldn’t.
It’s hot in June in Michigan and none of the libraries I work in (not one of the four) is air conditioned. Worse, there is only one, ONE, box-style fan per library. (Okay, I slightly exaggerate. The high school has four fans. Then again, it’s got three main rooms and a bunch of smaller ones.) The heat makes me a cranky adult; imagine how cranky a six year old gets. The fans that make the rooms just barely tolerable were supplied by teachers before me who mercifully left them when they retired.
However, I’m actually showing the videos for an educational reason, not a weather reason (they just make the temperature more tolerable). As kids toddle off for the summer, I want them to remember that a library media center is about media, all kinds of media: DVDs, the internet, and plain old print; that libraries are places to go when you need help with an assignment and when you want to have fun during your summer vacation.
From June through September, I want the kids in my schools to point to the public library as they zip by in their cars and whine to their parents that they “neeeeeed” to stop because the library is a fun place. I want their last memory of the school library to have been bouncing out of the room in line with their classmates singing, “It means no worries for the rest of your days. (Yeah, sing it kid!)/It’s our problem-free philosophy/Hakuna Matata!”
And I’ll be giving them a pinky wave.