The Mighty, a Review

The Mighty, a Review

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The Mighty is based on a fictional children's novel, written by Rodman Philbrick. As Special education teachers come in all shape and sizes. For Maxwell Cane, an eighth grade student with a learning disability, his special education teacher turned out to be Kevin, a peer with a physical disability. This story focuses on two-disability categories- one mental/emotional (Max) and one physical (Kevin). Persons with exceptionalities will applaud the unique relationship between Kevin and Max. What the one person did not have, the other one did, and the two of them together seemed to make a whole person-a somewhat superior person at that, brains and brawn, Freak the Mighty!

Max is big and tough, but is ridiculed and called stupid, his self-confidence is too low to verbally defend himself. When Kevin is tormented, he tends to get himself into trouble because he verbally stand up to others, but then cannot run to get away. I am trying to imagine any eighth grader who could not identify with Max's remarks while ridding on top of Kevin's shoulders, "I like how it feels to have a really smart brain on my shoulders, helping me to think." Of course, most eighth graders who saw this movie would appreciate the part about how together, Kevin and Max, was able to outsmart the local bully, the fearsome Blade and his gang. When the gang was spotted, Max murmured to Kevin, "Tell me what to do." Using Kevin's brains and Max's brawn, Freak the Mighty lured Blade into the cold pond water, thus becoming a hero.

In P.E class, Kevin was not participating, but Max listened to his peers and hit Kevin with the ball, although he knew this was wrong. Like any other student at this tender age, he wanted to be accepted by his peers, regardless of right or wrong. Later the two students play basketball together, despite the schools request that Kevin does not participate in sports, Max carries Kevin on his shoulders as the crowd chanted, "Freak the Mighty, Freak the Mighty." As this happens you could see the confidence on their faces grow. Although, each one of them on their own was ridiculed and stereotyped by most of society, once the two had been recognized as this great combination they were no longer ridiculed, but praised.

Because this story is told form the perspective of both Max and Kevin, it could be used to help a child better understand a sibling or a peer with a disability.

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Even though the two characters where different, they still had a great deal of similarities, although at first it did not seem so. Both had fathers that "deserted" them, and both felt that they where not some how whole. I feel both boys dealt with emotional uncertainty, as well as the more obvious disabilities. This story is about two children with exceptionalities trying to understand each another. In the classroom, this topic could be used as a great discussion starter.

It is this exchange of feelings that I think is so helpful for viewers trying to understand others. It would be this theme that I would stress in using this movie or book to present a unit to a regular or special education classroom. With issues such as inclusion, all students concerned could benefit by an honest exchange of feelings and attitudes. The mutual respect between the two friends in this story developed because they shared their feelings with one another.

As an adult viewer of this movie who is preparing to become a special education teacher, I could not help but think about Kevin and Max, as a metaphor for what special education is all about. Kevin was a part of Max's life for such an s short time; but during this time, he gave Max a gift of self-awareness and esteem, and he provided Max with the means to challenge his learning disability. In addition, maybe Max the student gave Kevin the teacher high-enough shoulders to see things more clearly!

On their last evening, before Kevin passed away he gave Max a gift of a blank book, and told him to "fill it up with our adventures." Max answered, " I can't write, you're the one with the brains." Kevin replied with, "Just write it all down like your talking, it's all in your head, just tell the story of Freak the Mighty."

One of the recurring themes from the movie is how people can overcome challenges. The main characters, Max, has a learning disability, but writes a novel. The other main character, Kevin, has a physical disability, but lives his life to the fullest. What would make this book interesting for our students is that it was written by a person with a learning disability, which Max writes at the end of the movie. The message of "I can do it" is a strong and powerful finish for this engaging movie.

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