Recently we blogged about the latest Pixar movie, Inside Out, and concluded,
Emotions “squabbling amongst themselves” might be cartoonish and entertaining but ultimately this movie sheds little light on a complex subject. No doubt the movie will be popular. Let’s hope it can be a starting point for more fruitful discussions about and long-term progress towards emotional literacy.
The philosopher Julian Baggini has published an article in the Guardian in which he lavishes praise on this film:
“A remarkably intelligent treatment of one of the most complicated and confusing philosophical issues of them all: the self.
“This cartoon . . . makes the key points intelligible to children. Inside Out has turned my world upside down.
“The film takes us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, where five homunculi – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – are literally pushing all her buttons. Most critics have focused on how this neat device teaches difficult lessons in emotional maturity, most notably how you can’t be happy all the time and that sadness has its role to play too.
“[But] the film also reflects some of the most important truths about what it means to be an individual person.
The first of these is that there isn’t actually a single, unified you at all. Your brain is not a little world full of anthropomorphic creatures, of course. But it is made up of various different, often competing impulses. You are simply how it all comes together, the sum of your psychic parts.
This, however, is just the first crack at the myth of the enduring, unified self. What the film also shows is that each of these parts is impermanent.
We are forever in flux, always in the process of growing out of what we once were into what we are to become next.”
These are themes we’ve been thinking about and writing about in this blog over the past several years, in the course of writing about multiple intelligences and how they develop, grow, interact and cooperate so as to create what we know as “consciousness”.
The main focus of Inside Out is on human emotions and feelings, and on the business of becoming emotionally intelligent and emotionally literate. These areas of the psyche are incredibly complex, but when we widen our focus to include the intellect, social intelligence, spiritual intelligence, instinctual intelligence, the role of the senses and the development of personal intelligence (insight) then we begin to see the vastness of this subject and what’s at stake when we consider the all-round growth and development of children and young people.
Whether or not they realise it, every parent and every teacher plays a huge part in either helping or hindering with children’s awareness of what we mean by “self”, emotions, feelings, instincts, intuition, empathy, and so on. Our three dimensional model of these multiple intelligences has proved to be helpful to a great many parents and teachers (plus people in every type of workplace) – awareness of such complexity being a key to future growth and understanding of the future learning that needs to take place.
Stimulating, thoughtful and intelligent feature films have a potentially important part to play in helping young and old alike to think about these important matters. What young people must have access to, however, is a school curriculum that puts such learning at the heart of what takes place in schools. We look forward to this happening – hopefully in the not too distant future.