Friday, September 30, 2011

Lessons Learned: Dolphin Tale

Last evening, I took my daughters to go see the movie, Dolphin Tale. (Fabulous movie!) Ten minutes into the movie, my heart sank when I saw how Sawyer, a shy, withdrawn, but bright young boy, is so apathetic about school. It soon becomes apparent that Sawyer is not disengaged with learning, just school. Sawyer suddenly becomes incredibly engaged in learning everything about dolphins and other members of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, when he helps to rescue Winter, yet his "by the book" summer school teacher fails to see the meaning in his student's new zest for learning. The teacher refuses to award credit to Sawyer, even though the boy is willing to do produce any work to report on his newly acquired knowledge. The teacher demands that Sawyer must be in his seat in order to learn, especially as he, the teacher, is such a GOOD teacher. 

How many Sawyers are out there? How many of our students are so disengaged with school? How many teachers fail to spend the time to get to know their students and help their students cross the bridge to the "land of engagement"?  

Finally, the teacher comes to realize that Sawyer's engagement with learning has resulted in not only Winter being saved, but the aquarium too. The teacher relents and grants Sawyer his summer school credit.

In the end, Winter the dolphin is saved, but so is Sawyer. What must we do to ensure that this is the norm? What must we do to guarantee that every educator learns this lesson?

Thanks to @dallasf & @shareski, I just watched the most fascinating video about a group of students who could not be more engaged :
The video showcases a pilot project where a group of disengaged high school students were able to "re-engage" via learning through establishing an independent school group. What they have learned is amazing. Check it out.

Dolphin Tale is a retelling of a true story. 
A young boy, Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), befriends Winter, an injured bottlenose dolphin who loses her tail due to being entrapped in a crab trap in the Indian River in Fort Pierce, Florida. He motivates everyone around him to help save the dolphin by creating a prosthetic appendage to replace the dolphin's missing tail. Harry Connick Jr. plays a vet who rescues the mammal and brings her to the marine hospital he runs. Ashley Judd plays the boy's mother while Morgan Freeman is a doctor who creates a prosthetic limb for Winter. (

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