We’re No Longer in Kansas, Toto
The famous film, Wizard of Oz, portrays the charisma of a young girl named Dorothy who arrives unexpectedly in the Land of Oz. After her unexpected arrival and the death of the Wicked Witch of West, Dorothy sets out on a journey in search of the yellow brick road that leads to the Emerald City. Through Dorothy’s journey in Munchkinland, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, The Lion, and The Tin Man. Together, the four of them take on evil to fulfill their goal: the Lion desires courage, the Tin Main wants a heart, and the Scare Crow yearns for a brain. Through adversity and guidance from The Good Witch of the North, the four friends conquer their fears to achieve their goals. In chapter 7, An Evolutionary, Democratic Learning community, Peter Johnston explains how a teacher has to orchestrate a student’s learning by creating an environment that supports students to be creative, analytical problem-solvers, and work collectively. As teachers, we use our words and actions to lead students onto the yellow brick road to find their heart, their brain, and their courage through social imagination and placing yourself in other persons’ shoes.
In the movie, the journey of self-discovery was more powerful than providing a direct answer to the Scare Crow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Johnson explains that a teacher can help guide students through self-discovery by the type of questions that are asked. Johnson suggests simple questions such as, “I wonder…” (68) or “Are there any other ways to think about that? Any other opinions?” (69). Dorothy demonstrates through her optimism she set the tone to help guide her friends through many adventurers. The friends solved their fears by working collaboratively, considering each other’s viewpoint, and using their imagination to find solutions.
The power of the silver shoes signifies the importance of placing yourself in your student’s shoes develops the viewpoint to see life through multiple perspectives. As students learn about different viewpoints and perspectives they are challenged to adjust and react. Johnson categorizes the term, “intermental development zone (IDZ)” (69) in which students learn to adjust to social and cultural situations. IDZ clearly supports that building empathy will help students acquire the skill of adjusting to various situations, which helped Dorothy and her friends in the film. For example on their wild adventurer, Dorothy and the trio of friends battled winged monkeys and killed a giant spider. The different viewpoint shared amongst their friends helped the friends create and support their “social imagination” (70).
As we embark on the yellow brick road, plan to guide your students through many adventurers through optimism and social imagination as they take responsibility to dictate their own learning by considering other viewpoints.