I love movies! One of my favorite composition activities that I would assign when I was a language arts teacher was to find a movie that was Based on a True Story, do the research, and explain what really happened. Boy, there are a lot of movies that loosely use that idea – sometimes to the extend that it is not very clear what the true story really was. Many movies take great liberties in “adjusting” the details and their portrayals of people in favor of making a more exciting movie. Maybe we cannot fault them -- again, I love a good movie -- but oftentimes people take the movie's "adjustments" as historical facts. Without healthy skepticism and some time to hear or find out the additional perspectives and details, false understandings and beliefs can occur which can cause frustrations and hurt feelings.
Most everyone has seen The Sound of Music (1965). I grew up when this was shown annually on network television. I could watch a little more of it each year because I was allowed to stay up later as I grew each year. From the occasional year with "limited commercials" to years where it was shown in its entirety – it is 174 minutes long! – my family would make some popcorn and sit and enjoy this story and its real events, especially the von Trapp's narrow escape from the Nazis across the Alps!
The Truth: The von Trapp family did not cross the Alps, fleeing Salzburg, Austria. If that had been true, that path would have led them into Germany, the very regime they were trying to escape. The truth is that they left Austria by booking passage on a train through a contract they had with an American agent. Even more shocking to me was finding out that Max Detweiler never existed! The von Trapp family’s musical director for over twenty years was their priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner. My understandings definitely affected my beliefs... I felt childhood memories were slipping away.
Each week in school there are events that could fall under the heading of Based on a True Story. There are incidents that really happen of course, but somewhere in all of the facts are memories and perspectives of the events and how they appeared and how one could say that they are loosely-based on the truth. More often than not, liberties are taken, especially when there are many students involved and if there are any shenanigans associated with the event.
Every parent made it through middle school, providing experiences that become filters on which the stories hear from children. There are times when the details shared are limited or “adjusted” to fit the desired outcomes and portrayals. So when we are all trying to support our learners, how do we know what actually happened? How can we discern the liberties that were taken?
The Truth: our kids love us as their parents. Your daughter/son loves you, and because of this love, s/he will take liberties in sharing the true story. In fact, as s/he does not want to disappoint you, in those times that s/he knows you will be disappointed with what actually happened, that is when the "adjustments" are the most likely to be made. Maybe you have not experienced this yet, but I am pretty sure it will happen sometime in high school or college.
The Offer: as the final months of the 2022-23 school year are here and as a collaborative community, please always know that we want what is best for your child and for you as well. We know middle-schoolers often respond with adjustments when they get caught misbehaving, so we are here to help them navigate these learning experiences. We are both your partner and theirs. When we are having to be responsive to these events, we communicate that we are moving forward, that single events do not define them, and that learning from past mistakes are a part of growth. In the end, when we work in partnership -- even in the times where there have been adjustments -- we can celebrate that we are growing.
It has been a good year, and we are excited to see that it stays that way until the end of May.
Weeks at a Glance
- Monday, April 3 - Friday, April 7: Spring Break - No School
- Tuesday, April 11 - Friday, April 14: Reading MCA in Literature classes