Monday, February 9, 2015

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Today's Maker Movement

I'm a sucker for classic movies. Movies like Pollyana, The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If I find one of those movies on and I have time, I will watch it. Such was the case Sunday morning when I came across Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


I hadn't seen this movie in years and I had some time, so I watched it. But I soon found myself watching the movie not as I had when I was a kid but watching the movie now with the eye of an educator.

If you aren't familiar with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it is the story of an inventor named Caractacus Potts and his carefree children and a car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that takes them on a wonderful adventure. Potts has created many wonderful things but has yet to find the one invention that will support his family. The family includes his eccentric father who in a fantastical tale told by Potts is kidnapped by a baron and taken to Vulgaria. While trying to hunt down Grandpa, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with family in tow transforms into a boat and then into a flying car. (Okay, it sounds ludicrous but it really is a good movie.)

So how does this relate to the maker movement of today? While I was watching the beginning of the movie and the inventor showing off all of his crazy inventions, it struck me that this is what we want our students to do.


Not one of the inventions had been popular or successful, yet he kept inventing. How does this relate to today? We want our students to keep inventing, to keep trying, to keep creating, to fail and try again. If Caractacus Potts had stopped with his first failed invention, he wouldn't have come to invent Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And he wouldn't have come to invent Toot Sweets, the product that turns out to be successful. And it is important to note that Toot Sweets was actually a failed product in and of itself but they found a unique use for it. How many products started out as failures but found their way to market with a different use? Post-it Notes, anyone?

While Grandpa is kidnapped in Vulgaria he is forced to try and make a car that flies even though he didn't create Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He and other prisoners actually sing a song about embracing failure! How perfect is that for today?! Just check out the first verse and chorus of the song:

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you'll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!



Once Grandpa embraces the idea that "There's magic in the wake of a fiasco! It gives you that chance to second guess!" he's ready to give it a try. Just listen to the words in The Roses of Success. I really feel like it could be the theme song to the maker movement, Genius Hour, 20% Time and creators everywhere!

I hadn't watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in years and as I watched it again on Sunday it struck me how a movie made in 1968 that was set in the 1910s could have relevance today. But it absolutely does. Creating, inventing, making, failing, trying again are all things we want our students to do today. It was important when this movie took place. It is even more important to encourage that in our students today.