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Wednesday
Sep032014

Back to School. Tips from "Matilda"

Hello all, Margaret here celebrating another day of "back to school" week. I'm sure there are plenty mourning the end of their summer, but I know I can't be the only one who feels a thrill of excitement every time September rolls around. Even if you're past your school years, doesn't the arrival of autumn get you itching to pick up some clean blank notebooks and a fresh set of pencils? Perhaps that attitude is why Matilda (both of the 1996 Danny DeVito film and the classic Roald Dahl novel on which it's based) has always been a personal hero.

Matilda Wormwood was a girl genius, and even though she had execrable crooks for parents and was subject to outrageous familial neglect, she didn't let that get her down. In or out of school, there is a lot we can learn from Matilda.

Keep yourself sharp. Left to her own devices from a tender age, Matilda didn't take that as an excuse to let her mind idle. She charged on down to the local library, and had read every book in the place by her sixth birthday.

Negotiate creatively. When her parents denied her requests to enroll in school because they'd rather have her at home to sign for UPS packages, Matilda was undeterred. She mixed in a little bleach in with their hair tonic and engaged in a little telekinetic TV exploding, and she was in kindergarten in no time.

Don't be afraid to be smart So what if her class was only on the two times tables? If you can multiply 13 by 379 in your head, sing out!

Develop a signature look. When Matilda decided somewhere around age four that the hair ribbon worked for her, she stuck with it.

Stay away from school principals who favor military jackets and knee shorts. This one should speak for itself.

Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to navigate back-to-school season (or the post-Labor Day work week) with style.

Now, who else out there was a school-loving Matilda type? Reveal yourselves!

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Reader Comments (7)

I was sadly the nerd of my class, yet I never liked school. Not liking University so far either.
BTW, I have no shame in admiting that this movie is in my top 10 of favorite movies and I've seen it more than 20 times. Also, it has aged very well.

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Love this movie, as I was one of those kids who LOVED school during the years when it was most uncool to do so. I also love that Mara Wilson, who played Matilda, was also serious about school in real life and is now a writer!

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I always thought little Mara Wilson was a major overactor so I never saw this one but I love these great pieces of advice.

I myself liked school but I'm not sure it wasn't the school part. It was the social life plus I'm not a summer person and never have been so I'm always glad when it ends. Sweating? Do not like.

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I think I convinced myself in 2nd grade that I was Matilda (despite the fact that my parents are loving, sweet people), so I was deeply disappointed when I did not develop telepathy from all of the reading I did. I definitely looked forward to school, and even had a Back To School outfit--my signature look--which, if there is any justice in the world, has been burned or hidden, never to rear its ugly polyester head again.

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

My mother told me I cried when I left school for my first summer vacation. But so much of the "I am the smart girl around nasty people and school (reading, teacher) will save me" seems gender biased.
Don't boys ever encounter this?

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

Nathaniel - I'd cosign that vis a vis her performance in Mrs. Doubtfire, but she's pretty understated for most of Matilda.

Anne Marie - I genuinely tried to funnel my smarts into telekinesis, with a lot of concentration on small household objects, but I too was thwarted. It's a small price to pay for a relatively happy childhood, I suppose.

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Matilda the movie was good, but the musical is the infinitely superior adaptation to me. I was initially skeptical but the score really pulls it together--if Matilda sings, this is what she'd sing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9yyiy7aqiE

September 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

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