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SUBJECTS — U.S./1913 - 1929; Diversity & West Virginia;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Male Role Model; Fighting;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Respect.
Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Drama; 1987; 130 minutes; Color.
Matewan is a dramatization of the events leading up to a famous shootout in the struggle to unionize the coal fields of West Virginia. The mayor of the town of Matewan, two union members, and seven armed coal company strong-arm men were killed. The movie shows oppression of the miners by the coal companies; cooperation between black and white miners; and the debate among the miners over the use of violence. It also shows the central role of evangelical religion in the lives of the miners, the isolation of the West Virginia coal towns, the difficulties of organizing a union, and the brutality of the coal companies. The character of Joe Kinehan is a role model for a committed and patient social activist.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to Matewan will provide background and discussion questions to assist teachers in using the film to supplement curriculum in U.S. history.
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Matewan is a dramatic story of labor strife in the coal fields of West Virginia.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Matewan.
The coal company operators dominated West Virginia politics, controlling both the Republican and the Democratic parties. Often, elected officials were executives of the mine companies and paid directly by the companies. Given the pervasiveness of the corruption in West Virginia in the early 20th century, it was unusual for a local police chief and a mayor to side with the miners.
The Learning Guide to the film Matewan contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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