Culture in Urban Schools - Paper on the Movie Precious

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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,...
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