Cora has heard The Beatles many times. When she was a baby, “Blackbird” was in her lullaby rotation. There is a folder on the MP3 player she inherited from her sister filled with their tunes. I often suggest she listen to those tracks instead of her kids’ music, but l know I shouldn’t push it. Like a neighbor and local music reviewer suggests, I realize the possibility that the more I push the more she’ll rebel. But, this past weekend she had two new encounters that seemed to convince her, once and for all, that The Beatles are worth her time.
First, she played Beatles Rock Band with Rosa and Dan. Thanks to Music Together, Cora loves to spend time with family singing and never misses a chance to bang on a drum. Add the chance to play big kid video games and she was hooked. Like so many other kids who have learned The Beatles’s music while pretending to be John, Paul, Ringo, and George, she asked to listen to their music later that day. So, we watched old concert clips at dinner. She was mesmerized and so was I.
Sometimes, I still can’t get over how much content we have at our fingertips. Like this version of “Paperback Writer” or this one of “Hello Goodbye.” Both have great sound and (relatively) sharp video. It’s rare that I sit around watching videos on YouTube, but Cora’s interest kept me clicking on recommended links for awhile. At some point we came across “Kids React to The Beatles.” Cora only tolerated a minute or two before she demanded more music, but I bookmarked it to watch after she went to bed.
Awesome, right?! Once again, I stumbled upon a cultural phenomenon that took hold over the past three years while I was submerged in work and family life. Parents and educators know how illuminating it can be to listen to kids’ reactions to things – books, music, works of art, historical events. They give us new insights and help us understand how they perceive the world around them. The Fine Brothers catch all that in their Kids React videos, and so much more that I still need to process. Their work seems like one part cultural anthropology and one part social justice as they empower kids to share their viewpoints. Their most recent post about gay marriage is not to be missed.
Watching Kids React is interesting, but it’s even better to watch your kid (or your students) react. Here are three things we learn from the Fine Brothers about sharing cultural content with our kids:
1. Consume media together. I’ve certainly been guilty of encouraging my older kids to watch videos and play games as far away from me as possible. I find so much of what they want to watch and listen to a waste of time. But, there’s a lot to be gained from watching what our kids are watching, hearing them talk about it, and asking questions.
2. Allow your kids to have their own opinions and come to their own conclusions about what they see and hear. Too often we want our kids to like what we like. As much as we might hate it at times, our kids will develop their own preferences, and oftentimes those will conflict with our own. If you have the means, record their thoughts so you can all come back to them later.
3. Ask questions that challenge kids to question their initial reactions and consider others’ perspectives. While it is important to let them have their own opinions, it is also important to push kids to explore and articulate the values and experiences of their beliefs.