Make A Scene For Your Classroom

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Apr
  • 09
  • 2006

While watching Election for quite possibly the 100th time, I was reminded of why I thought a short clip of that film might be good to play for my students.

Toward the end of the movie, in a segment that’s about 5 minutes long, the 3 candidates for Student Government President each give a brief speech during an assembly in the school gym. Tracy Flick, the classic overachiever, delivers a competent speech. Paul Metzler, the classic nice guy but only a slight modernization of the football stereotype, ejects his speech practically in one breath. Tammy Metzler sucker punches everyone with her non-speech advocating the tear down of student government.

Which One Are You?

The apathy toward a polished final product can take place in speaking just as readily as in writing. Many students go for the Paul Metzler approach and deliver a completely uninteresting, unengaging, boring speech. Sadly, they don’t realize how that speech reflects on them, what it says about their character.

Given the chance to look at the 3 candidates from the film, the writing prompt is “Who would you vote for and why?” The discussion topic is “What does each character’s speaking style say about the person?” The implied question with all this is “Which one are you?”

I drew a copy of a business card on the board for my classes about a week ago (a photo of it is on its way). It’s a business card for a limo service and it’s full of errors, misspellings, and undecipherable nonsense; “Contratulation” appears on the card in a rather random spot. For the most part, my classes said they wouldn’t go with that company because if they can’t spell correctly on their business cards, their driving abilities are in question and the company appears uneducated. With a classic turnaround (“So what does it say to me about you when you hand in papers with mistakes exactly like this?”), students left thinking of the message their mistakes communicate.

This bit from Election could achieve the same effect. Talking about the speeches in the abstract allows students to associate anything they want to with the speeches. Honesty should come from this. And once the opinions are out there, pushing students to consider what their speaking styles say about them isn’t too far a stretch. It worked with the business card and it should work with this film clip.

And You?

Are there scenes from movies that you’d show in the classroom to prove a point? How would you go about doing it? How long is the scene? Or maybe you’ve done this before. How did it work? What did you show?

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