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The Little Mermaid and a Lesson in Critical Thinking

Marcus Ryder is an accomplished author, journalist and activist. Yesterday he tweeted that he had seen the new Disney Little Mermaid with his son, but felt the need to advise his six year old son of some of the inaccuracies and historical context especially in relation to slavery.

My initial thought was, "Your sons only six, its Disney, just enjoy the film with him." However, I was wise enough not to comment. I have learned that because my Twitter title "Farmers Friend" has a clear rural bent and that I am white British with rural origins people, especially Americans, make huge assumptions about my racial attitudes and experience. I have also learned that not every argument is mine to have.

I therefore read the ongoing comments by Marcus and others. I have to marvel at his patience and the rarest of all attributes we see on Twitter - his grace. Grace is a most under-rated quality, but used wisely it humanises all and brings people together. So after all the support, criticism and argument was Marcus right to have such a conversation with his son?


Now don't get me wrong, I hope he didn't give a running commentary in the cinema as I did to my wife watching Will Smith's "Ali" explaining the plot and history (yes we are still married after 24 years!) . But a chat after the film or on the way home was not only appropriate but also necessary because of one talent it will help develop - critical thinking.

Art, entertainment, news and media can all be taken at face value however the most important skill a child can learn today is critical thinking.

We and our children are subjected to a daily assault by media and entertainment to command our attention. However, we do this without knowing necessarily who the ultimate masters, sources and motives are of this. We are subjected to ceaseless introspective comment and criticism of our beliefs, cultures and institutions. To make it worse those with power and influence either manipulate the media or, in the case of many politicians, fawn before such media and so-called public opinion as asserted by those who seek to form it.

Such manipulation is ongoing and threatens to enslave us all as the silent majority remain that.....very silent.

Thus we need more critical thinking to navigate this period that we are entering such thinking will be our saviour.

Marcus, in talking to his son about the Little Mermaid demonstrated the need to nurture this most essential skill - critical thinking.

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