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iceberg ahead!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I don't like confrontation...but a certain teacher, who shall remained nameless, has got me ticked.
I am getting ready to call her out on the carpet...
Or maybe the hall...
Or quite possibly the playground.
Anya's teacher showed her class of fifth graders...
Wait for it....
Titanic. The movie.
Okay...not all of it. Just the last 30 minutes or so. You know, the part with a bunch of frozen dead people, a wacked out guy who shoots another guy before blowing his own head off and then there are the screams from thousands of dying passengers as the ship breaks in two and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
Yea. That one. Because you know...it is SO appropriate as a historical teaching tool for a bunch of 10 and 11-year-olds. I guess I should be thankful they didn't show the modeling or sex scenes.

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So... I'm drafting a letter. Here's what I have so far...

Dear Mrs. F...
Anya informed me of the movie that was shown during last Friday's class. She described in vivid detail the last 30 minutes or so of the movie Titanic. I have to admit, I was not only surprised, I was sickened by your decision.
Consider this description from Focus on the Family's website PluggedInOnline.com...
The terror facing those left behind on the doomed liner is disturbingly realistic. Violent moments find panic-stricken passengers falling from great heights. Other victims are electrocuted, drowned or crushed by toppling smokestacks. A nervous armed guard attempting to control the crowd shoots a man, then kills himself. When the ship's stern is thrust high into the air, its weight causes the boat to break in two, and the rear half crashes down on people flailing in the icy water. Once Titanic disappears below the surface, a lone lifeboat navigates the silent sea of dead, frozen bodies bobbing in the night tide. A grim climax.It could be argued that calamity and death are central to Titanic's maritime legacy and should not be sugarcoated. But what's truly unnecessary is the script's considerable dependence on profanity, including numerous s-words, one f-word, an obscene gesture and more than a dozen exclamatory uses of God's name. Was such language really de rigueur in 1912?
Anya was quite disturbed by the movie. She described in vivid detail the portions involving frozen, dead people, the murder/suicide and the screams from dying people as the ship broke in two and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. It took a long discussion about the difference between movie and reality...which involved, 'Yes, it happened, but the people you saw aren't dead, they are actors' just to get her to sleep. I would hate to think of the children in your class whose parents weren't there to answer those questions for them.
And then there is the subject of children who have trauma-related disorders. While I don't believe Anya suffers from anything that serious...many children coming from her background do. Trauma triggers as simple as this movie often makes these children react in a fight/flight. Anya's sister, Maddie, may in fact, react very differently from the same movie. It is not something I want any of my children (including Nick next year) exposed to...especially without the supervision of their parents.
It's not that I so much opposed to you showing movies to the kids during school - although I'm not crazy about entertainment movies being used as an educational tool. Instead, it is the fact that a portion of a PG-13 movie was shown to my daughter without my permission. We have a very strict family policy of no PG-13 movies until the child reaches the age of 13...and maybe not even then. We have not allowed our 13 year old to watch Titanic...and I don't see that changing any time soon. I certainly didn't want my 11-year-old to see even a portion of it. Now, our family policy has not only been violated...her innocence has been as well. The most violent movie she had seen up until last Friday were PG rated Disney movies. It was that way by design.
I respectfully ask that a note or email be sent home if any more movies are on the schedule, so her father and I can determine if it is one we would like Anya to view.
I appreciate your cooperation.
So...did I miss anything? I'm trying to be the adult here. I'm trying to take the higher ground. What I really want to do is go into their school tomorrow morning and knock some heads together.
But I won't.
Honestly, this teacher is one of the better ones in the school. She is strict, expects a lot of her kids, usually has a high moral standard and engages Anya in a way I have seen few teachers be able to do. Anya likes her...respects her...and responds to those higher standards. I would hate for he to lose that.
Homeschooling is looking more and more enticing all the time.

11 salty messages:

Tina in CT January 29, 2012 at 8:14 PM  

The letter is perfect. You as the parent have a perfect right to feel as you do and bring this to her attention. Her actions were inappropriate and I'm surprised that the school would condone it. Let us know what transpires.

I definitely would not have wanted my daughter at that age to see the movie.

Michelle January 29, 2012 at 10:23 PM  

let me preface this comment by saying i agree with you 100% and think your letter is spot on.

that said... i think your words may be just what this teacher needs to hear. i spent my entire education up through halfway into freshman year of high school in public schools in the DC area. if i hadn't switched to private school - a Christian school - i can pretty much guarantee i never would've gone to a Christian college. and all that Christian education has removed me so far from that public school experience that sometimes i forget how the rest of the world is. i was reading a book about a military medic today & was SHOCKED by the behavior he described amongst his friends who are my age. literally could NOT believe it!

the world has changed so much so rapidly that i think sometimes adults forget that kids are not as grown up as we all may think. and for some reason a lot of people seem to think kids maturing younger is a good thing, but we need to remember that everyone needs that time of innocence and growth before reality hits.

perhaps your reminder will help this teacher remember that.

Mary January 30, 2012 at 2:11 AM  

I'm shocked that she *didn't* send home a permission slip for this movie first...I'm pretty sure most movies that fell into that category required a release form when I was a kid.

It could be worse: one of my teachers assigned watching the Silence of the Lambs to my class when I was 15. Seriously? You better believe my mom made a fuss about that :-) Another teacher had us watch an episode of the Sopranos in class when we were 14. Yeesh!

Annie January 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM  

She must have a deep lack of sensitivity for all her "high standards". I would never have shown that, as I couldn't take it myself! I was just telling someone the other day how traumatized I was, about that age, by the OLD Titanic movie that didn't show any of that graphic detail - just the IDEA of it is so upsetting - and WHY did she show it? So the kids could vividly imagine the cruise ship that just experienced a similar tragedy? You can't even say "That was a long time ago..." I would truly worry about her judgement.

Courtney January 30, 2012 at 7:47 AM  

I cannot imagine the issues we would have if any of mine saw that movie--and Alex is only a year younger than Anya (he would flip out--I would be hearing about dead people for weeks!!). That is one reason I like homeschooling, because I am able to tailor everything we do to where I know my kids are. I don't want to shelter them forever, but I do think it is important to protect their innocence, especially since they are behind in their exposure by several years compared to their U.S. peers. They simply aren't ready for a lot of things that have no impact on other kids their age.

Tina in CT January 30, 2012 at 9:12 PM  

I haven't even watched "Silence of the Lambs" as why would I want to?

Lesa January 31, 2012 at 6:03 AM  

So, have you sent the letter? I have to admit, I doubt she even thought through the ramifications possible; it's just a movie to most people. But as a teacher, I'm praying that she's a life-long-learner and by that I hope she's willing to accept this as a learning opportunity. Praying Anya is able to put it away from her mind and rest. My momma bear reacted aggressively but praying for a time for you to reason together with her teacher for the benefit of all her students.

kate January 31, 2012 at 10:29 AM  

I think this might be better done in person.

If you do write, I would start the letter by saying to her what you said about her at the end--that you admire her, think she's a great teacher, etc. You can then say that you were surprised that she's show this movie to her class, etc.

In our school you don't show pg-13 movies until they're 13. Or more. And, for after school movie nights, EVERY child has to have a signed permission slip for whatever movie they're watching.

WHY would she do this??!?!??

home. school. home. school. home. school. ;>

Tina in CT February 3, 2012 at 11:52 AM  

Hope you had a good response.

loyalbooks March 3, 2012 at 1:39 PM  

Ran across your blog today as I was looking for fellow Wyoming bloggers, but I am right in the middle of something similar. My son's middle school has chosen a book for read aloud that is very violent according to some reviews I have read. I emailed the principal right away (thankfully they did give us a heads up). But I am still stunned. I just don't get it- out of the millions of books out there, why this one?

Seriously, if they go ahead with this I'll have to pull my son out of school for a silly 20 minutes everyday.

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