LEARNING GUIDE TO:
REMEMBER THE TITANS
One of the Best! This movie is on TWM's short list of the best movies to supplement classes in United States History, High School Level.
Description: This film chronicles true events that occurred during 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, when the school board came under a court order to integrate both faculty and students in the public schools. At the time, high school football was the city's most popular sport. The Titans become a model of integration for a city in troubled times.
Rationale for Using the Movie: Remember the Titans is useful in clarifying the shifts in attitudes and the various personal decisions that were an important part of the process of integrating public schools in the South. Students will see how the combination of self-sacrifice and self-interest motivated many of the people who struggled through those troubled times.
Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Students can exercise writing and research skills through assignments at the film's end which include the role played by both high school and professional sports in the Civil Rights Movement.
Possible Problems: Minor racial violence is shown. There is a quick nonconsensual male-to-male kiss, not properly introduced or followed up, that may leave the audience confused. A major character is critically injured in a car accident.
LEARNING GUIDE MENU
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING REMEMBER THE TITANS IN THE CLASSROOM
Introduction to the Movie:
Before showing the movie, consider telling students the following:
The stories of the coaches and the two players are reasonably accurate portrayals showing how these individuals rose to the occasion and became friends. The story of the successful integration of the team as a whole has been simplified and enhanced by the filmmakers, but it still captures the spirit of the team and of its time.For a detailed description of what is accurate and what was changed in the adaptation of this story to the screen, see the Supplemental Materials for this Guide.
After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.
1. How did the individuals portrayed in this film make racial integration work? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. A good discussion will include the following concepts: It took respect for others, the ability to communicate, the moral courage to change when necessary, and a commitment by the coaches not just to win football games but also to help the players mature. These coaches understood that their primary responsibility was to help prepare their players for life as adults.
2. What is the significance of this exchange between the Bertier character and the character of his mother. Bertier: "Mom, just get to know him." Mother: "I don't want to know him." We do not know if this exchange really occurred, but it exemplifies one of the themes of the movie. What is it? Suggested Response: Hatred and prejudice are born of ignorance. If you get to know someone, hatred and prejudice are hard to maintain.
3. What factors made it difficult for the players and coaches on the Titans to adjust to the newly integrated and consolidated team? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Adjusting to a new coaching style, accepting lesser roles on the team, having to work closely with team members of a different race, and fear of failure may all have worked against a quick adjustment.
4. What factors helped the players and coaches on the Titans to adjust to the newly integrated and consolidated team? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Earned respect, the necessity of working together in order to win, and the power of individual personalities all served to help both players and team mates to cooperate.
For additional discussion questions, click here.
Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:
1. Research the actual history of the Titans football team and write a report detailing what is correct about the movie and what is incorrect. Use at least four sources.
2. Research information about the significance of sports in the Civil Rights Movement. Present your findings in an oral report to the entire class. Consider the integration of professional as well as school associated teams in your analysis.
3. Research information to create a sports integration time line that begins with the first blacks admitted to the ranks of professional sports and continues until today. Prepare a power point presentation for the class that shows the results of your research. Suggest specific concerns about aspects of sports that are not yet fully open to all races.
4. Write an opinion essay on what you see as the most important element in integrating two of the following institutions: public schools, sports teams, work places, or the military. Consider the force of law, the concern for the common good, a sense of justice, and even self-interest as possible factors.
For additional assignments, click here.
MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See Brian's Song and Edge of America. See also movies relating to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
This Learning Guide written by James Frieden and Mary RedClay and was last updated on July 17, 2015.
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