Who was this person? Why did (s)he do the things (s)he did? How do people remember him/her? These are all thoughts my students and I have pondered over the past couple weeks while deep into our Biographical study of a vast number of celebrities, sports stars, and mystery people to which I am also learning about.
I started out this learning experience excited to understand better a man that has had a profound impact on South Africa and the world, Nelson Mandela. When he died I collected newspaper articles, collected several books, and watched the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. As I explored more into his life, I felt more raw emotions than I could ever have predicted, especially when comparing the written word of his autobiography to the movie.
Who decides what are the most important details of his life?
I have found myself dreaming of going back in time to be there when he was a young lawyer leading peaceful protests inevitably turning violent to see, hear, feel what he went through so I may justly express through my written word what a powerful soul this man embraced.
As I think about my craving to be there with the man I am putting so much time into learning about, I question whether my students feel the same way. I want to find every meaningful detail of his life to understand the ripples that have had such a major impact on humanity. This process makes me think about producers creating the movie Lincoln. Out of the whole of Honest Abe’s life, what were the most important details? How could they sum up his life in 150 minutes?
These men and women we are studying have had a life long lived. My only wish is to express their lives passionately and accurately so whomever stumbles across what I deem is important in their lives will serve their soul.