Please Share My Passion For Education!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Disney Effect -Jon Harper

The following is a guest post by my favorite blogger on the internet, Jon Harper (@jonharper70bd on Twitter).  Jon is a vice-principal in Maryland.  If you do not already follow Jon's blog on a regular basis, please consider it, as you will not be disappointed.  Jon's stories and reflections provide many thought-provoking questions and a ton of inspiration!  

Jon's Blog is located at:
Bailey & Derek's Daddy - My Thoughts on Education and Leadership:

The Disney Effect

I've come to the realization that Disney may, in some ways, be hurting our kids.
How dare you?
That's blasphemy!
Before you have me arrested, let me explain.
Many of our children, mine included, spend a lot of time watching The Disney Channel and movies produced by Disney. And they are amazing! They are funny. They are engaging. They teach us life lessons. But what they don't do is mirror real life.
And I think that can be dangerous. Especially when kids have been on the Disney drip for many years.
Herein I think lies the problem. Like almost all good television shows or movies, Disney always starts off with a problem. Then there is some struggle-time, and finally the problem is solved. Now, Disney has its characters go through some difficult times. Simba losing his father in Lion King, Marlin searching for his son in Finding Nemo and most recently Anna and her sister Elsa disconnecting for a period of time.
But it always works out!
While I realize that this is meant to inspire kids and teach them to never give up, I believe it may in fact be having the opposite effect.
What are kids to think when they strive for something, like all Disney characters, but yet fall short? They are failures? They can’t reach their dreams? That only Disney has the power to make dreams come true?
Disney Junior’s signature song is in fact;

I worry that our kids are growing up scared to take chances. Scared to make mistakes.
As Oliver Schinkten wrote in his piece 3 Quote Reflections-Topic: Failure:

“If you never fail, you have failed.”

I am not suggesting that Disney all of the sudden start making deep, dark and depressing television shows and movies. And I don’t want our kids to grow up thinking, like in video games; everything in life can be solved by always hitting the reset button. To be quite honest, I don’t really know what to suggest.
Is it possible to have a balance of the two? Can some shows and some movies have main characters that don’t always win, that are not always successful? Would anyone watch them? Or would kids return to the happy endings to get their next “hit” of success?

We have created kids that are so scared to make a mistake that they don’t even reach anymore. Or if they do reach it is not with any attempt to succeed. They reach with T-Rex arms so that when they fail it was as if they had no chance to begin with.

Furthermore, this upcoming generation has shown in surveys that they feel it is their duty to do "social good" and contribute meaningfully to society. But are they confident enough and do they feel empowered enough to take the next step?  This is where we must step in. We must let them know that they might not always get what they reach for. And that’s okay because eventually they will, and it will empower others to do the same.

As much as we want kids to think of others first and perform selfless acts of generosity, we must realize that this will not occur until they are able to believe in themselves. Right now many kids do not believe in themselves because they continue to use television and movies as their measuring sticks. They realize that they will never measure up to these standards. So they stop even trying. It is our job to remind them that what they are watching is fiction. It is our job to let them know that it is okay to fail and that when they do we will be right there to give them a hand up.
If we can begin to help students feel better about themselves they will in turn be able to dream big. Our kids will stop singing Disney’s, “When You Wish Upon A Star” and will start belting Coldplay’s, “Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars.And when they do they will include others in their dreams.

When this happens, and it will, we will have a front row seat to possibly the most compassionate students the world has ever seen!  

-Jon Harper


  1. Disney saved my life by being magical and showing that the unexplainable happens

  2. just blogwalking.. Nice post and have a nice day :)