Culture in Urban Schools – Paper on the Movie Precious
Culture in Urban Schools SOSE 3306 Final Exam Directions: Choose movie from the list below to answer the following questions. Answer the questions within the framework of the Culture in Urban in Schools 3306 class. Each question is 20 points each. Suggested Movies or Books: Slumdog Millionaire CRASH Freedom Writers The Secret Lives of Bees Save the Last Dance To Kill a Mockingbird Precious Name of Movie: _____________________Precious___________________ 1. Describe the movie/book setting by using Sociocultural Theory.
Look at the dominant and marginalized groups, the structural inequality of the systems in the story, and the power/privilege of the characters. How does the author tell their story or stories? The setting of the movie “Precious” shows the main character, Claireece, struggling to find her identity and self-worth in the midst of oppression and abuse. She is surrounded by abuse in her home life and oppression at school. She loses her self-identity but never loses the will to find out. She grows up living in an environment where she is constantly labeled and called out of her name.
The dominant groups in the movie, her father and mother, was abusive and enslaved Claireece, and this was offset by other dominant group, the teachers and the counselor, who pushed to deposit positivity and self-worth into her. The movie demonstrated Claireece’s inner desire to find herself, her belief that there was hope, a wish, for change, by her inner thoughts, daydreams, and her mental escapes during her moments of abuse. The movie gives a small glimpse the students, the marginalized group, in the education system. The public school represents a system where the learning approach is typical, bureaucratic and mono-cultural.
It was evident that the majority of the students were not being reached, there was a disconnect between teacher and students. The opposite was the alternative school Claireece enrolled in. “Each One, Teach One” demonstrated more of a Critical Pedagogy approach, where the curriculum was based around the student’s experiences and was fueled by their regular input. The author/director told Claireece’s story by showing how she grew as she was around a support system that included teachers and peeps, instead of inclusion among the midst of decay. Other characters used their power/privilege in a positive light.
Even though Claireece’s junior high school principal was directly tied to an oppressed system, which suspended Claireece from school, not because of academic or behavioral problems, but simply because she was pregnant, at no fault of her own. This was a clear example of structural inequality, however, her principal, with help from her math teacher, used her power to reach out to Claireece and offer her an avenue of escape. Also the male nurse, Nurse John, went beyond the set parameters of his job to show Claireece kindness and genuine concern. 2. Identify the characters in the story. How do the characters identify their cultural identity?
Utilize the cultural markers or elements that we have discussed in class. I will focus on three characters of the movie. Claireece (Precious). She possessed a foundation of love and acceptance, which was now covered in low self-esteem and self- worth. My her name alone, Precious, is proof that in the beginning up to some point she was loved and felt loved by her mother, and possibly her father. She continued to reach back to that love that once experienced, hoping it would resurrect her from the bondage she is experiencing. Her home environment shaped her language, social skills, and personal outlook.
Mary Jones (Claireece’s mother). Her mother is an interesting character because she portrays both a dominant and marginalized group. She both uses her power and also presents herself powerless. Her cultural identity is portrayed in her work and moral ethics. Instead of encouraging Claireece to attend school, learn to read, or even to find work to help support her children, the constant advice was to forget school because she was “too stupid to learn” and to sign up for welfare. This was advice lived because Mary avoided work by scamming the public assistance program.
Blu Rain (Claireece’s alternative school teacher). Claireece’s alternative school teacher offers hope and fills the social and emotion voids in Claireece’s life. Blu goes beyond classroom curriculum to reach Claireece. She pushes Claireece to begin to learn to read and write and to open up and become vulnerable. Blu opened her home to Claireece, exposed her own controversial lifestyle to her and displayed unconditional love to her. Blu also struggled to find Claireece somewhere to live when she finally left home. Blu’s cultural identity is seen in her relationship, and her personal and professional morals. . Are the characters using their culture to acculturate, assimilate, or isolate from the dominant culture? Claireece’s used her culture to acculturate from the dominant culture. This was practiced at home for reasons of self preservation. She took on traits of her mother to appease her and attempt to lessen the episodes of abuse. In society, Claireece’s used her culture to isolate herself. She often commented about loneliness and feelings of isolation. Claireece’s mom, Mary used her culture to assimilate from the dominant culture, all for the purpose of obtaining public assistance.
She used her dominance over Claireece’s to manipulate the system of the dominant culture and used it to her advantage. In my opinion Rain used her culture to isolate from the dominant culture. Her isolation is critical for her to provide educational and cultural opportunities for marginal groups. Even though Claireece was sent to the alternative school, it was not a recommendation as part of dominant group program or system; in contrast, it was because of the extra effort of her junior high school’s principal. 4. What was the author’s purpose for writing/creating this story?
The author had a two-fold purpose for writing this story. First, the obvious story on the surface, which is the story of a person who struggles to rise above the ashes of the decay surrounding her life to provide a better opportunity for not only herself, but for the children. One of the poignant moments of the movie is when Claireece declares that she is actually the best option for her son, her children. Despite the void of the usual things needed, she is determined to give her children a different life, which means a different life for her.
I also think the other story in the movie is about those people who sacrifice of their own life to provide hope for the marginalized group. Blu Rain, and also Mrs. Weiss, the social worker, shows the passion and dedication needed to reach students and those in need. Mrs. Weiss could have simply followed the Q & A protocol at her dress and push the necessary paperwork through for Claireece, all in the name of “doing her job”, but instead she went through great pain and discomfort to get Claireece to open and face her own reality; to step outside of the protective shell she created. . What are your connections to this story? My connections to this story are about those with power and privilege stepping out of the structural inequality of the system and giving me opportunities. In kindergarten I demonstrated an academic advancement that the other students did not portray. I showed clearly that I was beyond the regular class curriculum. Instead of allowing the system to oppress and arginalize me, I was given an opportunity to study with the first grade class while I was still in kindergarten and by the time I graduated from kindergarten I had already complete the first grade curriculum, therefore I was allow to go directly to second grade and therefore I was able to be challenged academically and socially which provided me with growth opportunities. Also, as a basketball coach of high-school aged boys in the urban neighborhood, I was given the opportunity to often step outside the normal parameters of a sports coach, and often life lessons to the boys on the team.
Each boy had his own unique story and therefore I had to use a different method to reach each boy. As being the one with power and privilege and part of the dominant group vs. the marginal groups, I was sensitive to the fact that I did not suppress their uniqueness, nor did I minimize their cultural contributions they brought to the team, because there was more than just black kids on the team. In the end, I provided a platform where each teammate was able to contribute to the success of the team beyond just their performance on the basketball court.