The Wizard of Oz and Children

Our class of January 31st, 2017, began with a film presentation on the Wizard of Oz given by Wynelle Studdard. Since I was a little kid, although I had been grown up not in the U.S. but in my home country South Korea, I have heard so many times and been familiar with the story and the song Over the Rainbow which is the most famous soundtrack of the movie. However, it was after I came to the U.S. that I finally watched the original film. Dorothy, the main character, and her friends take a journey to meet the Wizard of Oz to obtain what each of them want, miss of, or lack of. According to the presentation, the film is dealing with a lesson that a child starts facing challenges in the process of growing up as an adult. In the end of the presentation, we were questioned, then, what the actual role of the wizard of Oz would be since he is also a mere person who does not have such a magical power may fulfilling Dorothy and friends’ wants. In the story, however, observers –readers and auditors- soon come to notice that the characters find that they already have had what they wanted. This progress of the story would emphasize the growth of the individuals though overcoming the challenges; and it could be seen as that what Dorothy and her friends wanted have been developed through the journey. On the other hand, it also could be interpreted as that they just find in themselves what they thought to be lack of. Therefore, it gives another message that growing up from a child to an adult means also searching for him or herself and finding out hidden treasures inside.

After the presentation, we moved on to short talk of Soudabeh regarding the recent executive order by president Trump which restrict entries of people from seven Muslim majority countries to the U.S. The talk was not just about the issue, but was to relate to literature; she said that literature, even fantasy stories, is the reflection of our society. As an international student who is alien in the U.S., although my country is not on the list of the policy (yet), shares sadness with those people whose life are threatened and whose opportunity are taken away. Throughout the history, many writings have been motivated by deprivation, oppression, and injustice. Today’s issue would be remaining in the history, in many ways in literature, as one of the example of prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization.

And then, we moved on to the readings of the day, the Ugly Duckling and Other Fairy Tales. I have not covered all the stories we discussed in the class, but several points I have been impressed. We discussed about how children are engaging into readings and stories; physical distress and emotional anguish presented in stories lives long with kids because kids identify themselves with the character easily. When I was young, I remember that I got so sad and cried every time I watched a short animation of the Green Frog (for those who do not know about the story, the story is about a son frog and mother frog. The son did not listen to his mother and always acted in opposite ways to what his mother told him. The mother came to die and told the little son to bury her near to a river so that the son bury her actually in a plain as he had acted oppositely to what she said. After the mother died, however, the little frog regret what he has done to his mother, and buried her at the edge of a river as she told him. And he cried and wept whenever it was raining for worries if his mother’s grave is going to be carried away by the water). Sometimes, it could be a kind of torture to sensitive children. However, we discussed in the class that if the kids are appropriately taught how to deal with the emotion transmission and identification, the kids can learn how to sympathize with others. The class moved on to the Emperor’s New Clothes, and we talked about how kids speaks up about the truth while the adults fooled themselves, which happens not only in the story, but also in real life.

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