This past weekend, I decided to take my daughter to the movie Wonder. Now if you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, I’m not here to put out spoilers. But I couldn’t help but see this movie through the lens of a teacher, which is probably why many schools are taking field trips to see it as well.
The movie starts simple enough introducing the main characters and being narrated by the story’s main character, Auggie, played by Jacob Tremblay. Auggie is being placed in a situation where his facial deformities will be seen by the public eye, namely children from the 5th grade. Auggie just wants to be seen for who he is inside but continually faces ridicule and scary looks as the students see him everyday. At this point, you might think that the central message is not to judge a book by its cover. In a way, you’d be absolutely correct. However, much of the movie, the way its directed, and the scenes chosen go a few steps beyond the vernier of that old piece of wisdom.
As the movie progresses, we get to see life from the different perspectives of those people who are revolving around Auggie’s universe. From his sister, mother, best friends, and even his sister’s best friend, we get to watch as they tackle their own feelings, triumphs, and heartaches. In my opinion this is where the movie does its best work. We get to see how even those children who are mean to Auggie, are all facing their own physical and emotional battles that we often forget exist when we interact with other people.
This is where my teacher brain locked in. In those people with their problems, I saw my students. I saw my colleagues. I even saw my friends, neighbors, and family. I remembered students who were misbehaving as recently as last week, and how I reacted. I thought about what they might be feeling and seeing from inside their own world. It made me think, what could I do differently? How can I be better at responding?
You should definitely go see this movie and read the book. I know that I will be picking up a copy of the book for both myself and the classroom. I would absolutely see this movie again and probably will in the coming weeks.