The kids aren’t quite old enough to roll their eyes at me and make sarcastic comments about my new world teaching techniques. “So what did you learn, kids?” is still not seen with disdain. This means that I still have a few good years in which I can use movies as a teaching tool. The recent “Penguins of Madagascar” movie gave me just that.
I’m not going to wax ad nauseum about the plot, but I will help you with a cheat sheet if you’ve been guilty of catching some z’s at the cinema – here is Jane’s amazing review of the movie. While the characters and animation are top notch and some of the jokes tear-jerkingly hilarious, the lessons we picked up from it were far more universal.
Here are four life lessons from “Penguins of Madagascar”:
1. Be Truly You. The movie starts off with a very powerful message delivered through three cute and fluffy penguins. With one simple line — “I reject nature” — the penguins demonstrate the sort of bravery we all want to have at various stages of our lives.
They first question why things are the way they are, and instead of just following what everybody does in an “it happens” or “that’s the way it is” sort of way, they set off on a journey of discovery. They learn who they are, they show a healthy curiosity, and they even end up rescuing a stray egg that they raise themselves. If the penguins didn’t go on this road of self-discovery, imagine all the adventures they never would have had!
2. Never Give Up. All four of our protagonists – Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private – showed a never-give-up attitude. Even when things seemed bleak and futile, they kept at it. I love that they show this in a realistic way, in that life isn’t always sunshine and smooth sailing. The penguins (or as Benedict Cumberbatch insists, “Penglings” … or was that “Pengwings”?) feel anxious and feel the stress of impossible situations. There is a scene where Skipper almost waves the white flag while ideating on how to rescue Private, and yet, they all persevere. I find this one of the best things you can teach your children. Things are hard, and as much as you’d love to shield your kids from it, they have to face life eventually. Perseverance and a never-give-up attitude is exactly what your kids need then.
3. Value Friendship. The Penguins of Madagascar form an unlikely quartet – you would think that with their diverse personalities, they would fall out more regularly (you see it happening when the boys underestimate Private). You do see glimpses of envy and sadness, but despite everything, they come together every time. Their bond is that of family, and it shows in the way they always stick together and how deeply they care for each other.
4. Be Open Minded. I probably absorbed the take-away of this message more strongly than my kids did. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and to lounge about in your comfort zone, but the penguins teach us to take that leap of faith, even when things seem scary or failure is possible. Look at the lands they adventured to and all the memories they created, with never a moment of regret.
What did our feathery li’l friends teach you and your kids? Sound off in the comments below!