Three millennia ago, the writer of the Book of Proverbs said, ?Train children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it.? Three decades ago, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young sang, ?Teach your children well.?
It?s sound advice, but it?s a challenge. If I have learned one thing in the four years we have been blessed with children, it is that they are truly sponges. They pick everything up. They learn from what they see and hear.
How, then, do parents teach their children well? I would suggest a great way is to immerse them in activities which engage their natural learning and curiosity while imparting good values.
A group of Christians based in Illinois have spent the last decade developing a wonderful resource in the Veggie Tales videos. They are computer animation marvels in which the key characters are children as vegetables.
The story lines are contemporary adaptations of Bible stories that transcend denominational barriers in their adaptations. Such Bible stories as David and Goliath (Dave and the Giant Pickle) and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Rack, Shack, and Benny) have been introduced to 1990s-born children. The 13th video is due in Christian bookstores April 1, soon to arrive in secular stores.
The stories are driven by music, and that music is now available on four different CD releases. The core of the music is songs that drive the stories or reinforce their central teachings. The songs stick in your mind, and so do the teachings.
Those teachings work for a wide variety of Christian spiritualities. Phil Vischer is a computer animator who attended St. Paul Bible College before founding Big Idea Productions in 1991. The moral teachings do not bash one over the head, but they stick. The rationale is that the vast majority of people believe in a higher power, but they often get uncomfortable with aggressively Christian products. What is described as ?a media company with a Christian world view? can fill a niche if they do so with skill and grace, and that is what Big Idea Productions has done with Veggie Tales.
Teach your children well, indeed. Wilfred Langmaid is Anglican chaplain of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, and music critic for the Fredericton Gleaner.