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Print the Legend

Sun, Oct 15, 2017

As we get closer to our opening, we will be sharing Project Proposals, examples of projects that we will be working on with students at Compass.  Keeping in mind that student voice is an important element in any project, these proposals will be a framework of projects with the potential to evolve as student interest and voice are integrated into our curriculum. However, these are meant as examples to illustrate a primary component of students’ learning at Compass.


Project Topic:The Power and Myths of Storytelling

Compass Competencies:* Information and Media Literacy; Communication and Foundational Literacies*

In the film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”(1962) Jimmy Stewart plays a man, Rance, who is given credit for shooting the notorious criminal, Liberty Valance.  As a result, his character goes on to become famous for the act.  In fact, John Wayne’s character, Tom, was the one who actually shot Valance but he let’s Rance take credit.  In the film, when Rance tries to tell a reporter the truth, he responds with the famous quote: “When the legend becomes fact… print the legend”.

The lesson is that pop culture and the telling of stories has a way of creating legends that over time can become unquestionable truth.  Of course, this lesson is extremely important in today’s world of social media and questionable news sources. The desire of many to use these tools to tell the story they want others to believe has muddied the waters and made it extremely difficult to separate truth from legend.  

A great example of this is the tale of David and Goliath, a story that we all “know”.  As Malcolm Gladwell explored in a 2013 TED Talk, the reality behind the story is so much more interesting than the story that we tell each other.  Particularly, the lesson that we consistently take from the famous bible story is focused on the concept of an underdog and being underestimated.  But when you explore the history of battles of that time in addition to an interesting medical theory, David and Goliath tells a very different story.

An early project for students at Compass will utilize this same exploration.  Students will choose a story they’ve known for years, or at least one they think they know.  As part of this project, students will explore the power of storytelling, the development of myths and legends and the way pop culture sometimes restructures the stories we tell.  From the legend of Paul Revere to the multiple historical accounts of St. Nicholas, there are so many stories and legends to explore and learn from.  Final products could be student “legends”, public interviews with Fort Collins’ locals; dissection of Local Fort Collins’ stories (ex: Disney and Harper Goff) and TED Talk-like community storytelling sessions.

Content Connections:
Social Studies: historical context of the given story; legends/myths vs. truth; oral vs. written storytelling
Reading, Writing and Communicating: creative writing and composition; oral expression and listening; the “Hero’s Journey”; elements of good storytelling
Arts:Impact of cultural traditions and events on visual arts within a community