There's a terrific essay by the great Ursula K. LeGuin on the CBC Books site. I cannot represent her meaning here (and if you are in touch with her opinions on the Earthsea miniseries, you know I shouldn't try!), but I'll try to capture the critical point:
Stories are not packages designed for the delivery messages. You don't start with a message, then build a story around it.
This is a fundamental truth in writing, and not a new one. But its presence on the Children's Book Council site reminds me, as I consider year 3 in the evolution of my hobby/passion to teach poetry to children, that I must avoid teaching them to learn what a poem really means, because it can really mean different things to different people. I get so disappointed when people tell me "that was a great poem; I really understood it". That, my reader friends, is not a tier-1 compliment. Of course, I want you to find great value and connection with the work. And I want it to touch you in a way that is meaningful and particular to you (what I've called "The Hmm."). But if what I was after primarily were your understanding, I certainly wouldn't write you a poem. I'd present you a rational case, with straightforward logic and a clear conclusion. The opposite of a poem.
LeGuin says: "The complex meanings of a serious story or novel can be understood only by participation in the language of the story itself. To translate them into a message or reduce them to a sermon distorts, betrays, and destroys them."
You can substitute any art form for "story". Now how to teach this? More to come.