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teachingmovies (teachingmovies) wrote,
@ 2007-05-31 19:01:00
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    UTILIZING FILMS IN THE CLASSROOM
    UTILIZING FILM IN THE CLASSROOM
    Welcome!

    I hope you enjoyed TSOTSI. What things stood out for you as you watched it? What did you notice about culture, gender or psychology?

    How would you use this film (or a clip of it) to teach your subject?

    Please post not only your comment, but later, check back and comment on someone else's ideas. We encourage using this on-line post to provoke dialogue.

    To see how it works for real, you can see an old class site http://www.blurty.com/users/paracake or http://www.blurty.com/users/bigquestions. It is an extremely effective tool that the students really can get stimulated about and it avoids traditional hand-in-the-homework assignments. It is spectacularly easy to grade and it illicits much more intelligent responses from the kids because they can read others' thoughts and then comment, add, agree or refute already posted ideas.

    HOW TO POST A COMMENT ON-LINE:

    You must type your name at the bottom or your posting or put it in the SUBJECT heading. Mark off the "Anonymous" box to submit. Please put your name in the text or the subject heading. You can create a "title" for your comment if you want as well in the subject heading.


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Tsotsi's Coming of Age
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 19:57 (link)
The setting of extreme poverty in Soweto, Africa really stood out in Tsotsi. It was heartbreaking to see the parallels of poverty in South Johannesburg and of gangs here in Los Angeles. Children are living in barrels and raising themselves, gangs are trying to survive by committing heinous crimes, and cramped and filthy living quarters are all too familiar of the environment in poverty stricken areas of the US. A multitude of familiar symbols represented in this film: love, hatred, greed, stealing, maturity.

The women are seen in the role as mother, caretaker, and nurturer throughout the film. Miriam, the young widow that Tsotsi forces to nurse his kidnapped child is still nurturing to the baby although he is aggressive. She offers to clean the baby and keep the baby she knows he is unable to care for. She also cooks a meal for Tsotsi when he comes in the middle of the night to give her money.

In the beginning of the movie, psychologically, Tsotsi is a presented as a ruthless gang member that angrily lashes out at those who challenge him or are in his way. His actions are cold, selfish, and insensitive. It is reflective of the gang environment that he is associated with. Tsotsi progressively changes after the kidnapping of the baby by dealing with his own past and the wrongs he has done, i.e. befriending and beating Boston, terrorizing a homeless man, kidnapping the baby from John and Pulma.

I would use the movie Tsotsi to demonstrate the theme of “Growth and Initiation”. The theme can expound on Tsotsi’s coming of age, and the way he learns to handle dilemmas throughout the film. The experiences that Tsotsi has helps him to develop a more humanistic and sensitive soul that breaks away from a childish and selfish existence. Tsotsi can parallel any number of coming of age novels such as Holes, The Outsiders, or Monster.


Tania Ward

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Re: Tsotsi's Coming of Age response to Tania
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 22:01 (link)
I would use this movie to also discuss themes of growth and maturity, however, I would note the differences between here and South Africa in that kids here still have it much better here and often don't take advantage of opportunities provided to them, so I would make a central theme of teaching this "Choices." The choice not to be a victim but to try to rise above your circumstances..I think it would also be instructive for students to see that poverty is relative and that TSOTSI had much less materially than many of our students who are considered poor so then what constitutes poverty- is it poverty of the spirit or material poverty?

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: Tsotsi's Coming of Age response to Tania (Relative Poverty)
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 03:53 (link)
I gree. The difference between here and South Africa, in fact Africa in general is distinct. The issue of poverty is relative. I tend to believe that the kids here exhibit poverty of the spirit as you put it rather than material poverty. The level of material poverty in Africa cannot be overemphasized after watching the film. I would want to think that TSOTSI's dilema and crimes stemmed from poverty as well as what comes with growth and maturity.

- Mercy.

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: Tsotsi's Coming of Age response to Tania_Makeisa's response
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 19:03 (link)
I agree with you both. Although it may have seemed as if Tsotsi had no choices, he did. But I think it becomes a matter of whether or not he even realized that he had other choices because obviously there was a lack of coping or resolution with his childhood issues. I think it would be a powerful learning tool for students to see this film "aforehand" if you will to recognize that even if their situation is not great, it may be worse for someone else in another place which could be motivational to students in terms of the'r "choices".

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: Tsotsi's Coming of Age response to Tania
(Anonymous)
2007-06-04 13:47 (link)
Definitely, "choices" would be a central theme to analyze the movie. I would also allow the students to come up with a list of central themes of their own, and justify why they decided they are possible movie themes. Luz

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

TSOTSI by Barbara from Fremont
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 21:50 (link)
I thought TSOTSI was an emotionally draining movie to watch because I felt like I was literally inside of him feeling his struggling with himself......I felt his "turnaround" happened a bit quickly but maybe it was the influence of his mother and the woman who nursed the baby. If he had never had any nurturing, I don't think he could have put the breaks on his downward spiral.

I loved the fact that it showed the true bleakness of life in South Africa for so many and the disparity between the rich and poor.
I thought the woman who nursed the baby was the most interesting character and it was obvious that he came to trust her and maybe saw her as a replacement mother. The hardest part for me was hearing the dog's back getting broken and seeing the expression on TSOTSI's face. There was so much left to wonder. What happened to his mother and father? Was the dog just left to starve? Did he go to jail for a long time? Did he have anymore contact with the woman? I think the ending was just right!

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Re: TSOTSI by Barbara from Fremont
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 23:58 (link)
I agree with you that if Tsotsi never had nuturing from his mother, he may not have been able to turnaround his downward spiral. In fact, that was the thing that impacted me in the movie the most, and that I kept thinking about as I watched it.

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

Film comment--Mack Polhemus
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 23:32 (link)

The film was powerful and deep. It struck me on a gut level which I’m sure was the intention of the filmmakers by beginning the film with a surgically cold murder. I never could really forgive the main character for killing an innocent man and crippling a woman; however, I did feel tremendous empathy for him as the film progressed. I was particularly touched at the mutual vulnerability of both Tsotsi and the baby. They seemed an odd coupling at first, even comical if it weren't tragic and yet they are both victims of a brutal and disparate society. They actually, shared many of the same qualities: the need for food, shelter, and most importantly love.
Despite being treated like an animal (like the kicked dog), Tsotsi somehow manages to rise above his circumstances to be a noble man. The woman he goes to for help becomes an inspiration throughout her strength and eventual love. by his willingness to reform—and indeed he was fully reformed which made him seem all the more noble--even saintly.
In the hospital, I have students involved in gangs who’ve been shot. I would show the whole film to them and ask them why Tsotsi became a criminal. What were the circumstances (like his family or his environment) which led to his hardened attitude? I would ask them to compare these circumstances to their own lives. When and why did Tsotsi start to change? What made him vulnerable? I would ask them what makes them vulnerable. In thinking about it, I could use the clip when “Teacher” digs at Tsotsi to find out his weak spot.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Bill Montileone
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 23:36 (link)
I cannot say that I enjoyed the film Tsotsi as I did not leave the auditorium feeling uplifted about human nature. I felt shock and numbness as if I had been in a two hour automobile accident. However, the movie deeply touched my emotions by its content. I do not think I will ever forget the life of this man from South Africa living in poverty, relying on intimidation of others to survive. How unfortunate that his story is repeated over again and again in all parts of our world to children who grow into damaged adults confused, cruel, angry, sad, and bitter. Human beings can be cruel and uncaring; and this film filled me with great sadness. I wanted to reach out to Tsotsi and help. I wished that he had a better childhood filled with joy, happiness, and peace. I wished I could have saved his mother and provided medical care and medicine. I wanted so badly for there to be a safe haven for this young boy to run. Unfortunately, I could only sit helpless and watch his story unfold and watch the lives of others be dramatically effected by his young adulthood.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Re: Bill Montileone_Makeisa's response
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 18:57 (link)
I agree. There was great sadness embedded throughout this movie and it makes one contemplate the notion of "product of the environment"

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

Laurie Burnett
(Anonymous)
2007-06-02 23:52 (link)
The role of mothering in Tsotsi's turnaround stood out the most for me in this film. When his friend Boston asked him if there was any decency left in him, it appeared at first that maybe there wasn't. Possibly he was a type of sociopath who had no empathy for others. As studies in some orphanages have shown, children who are never touched in infancy grow up with an inability to feel or care for others.
However, for Tsotsi, flashbacks to his mother clearly showed that he was not this type of abandoned child; instead, he had a mother who loved him and who must have touched and held him a lot, based on the obvious love and desire to touch him shown in the movie clips. It seemed to me that it was this part of him, the experience of having been loved early in life, that was was still somewhere within him and allowed him to change. The important role of his mother's nuturing in the awakening of his decency is shown by the flashbacks to his mother as he starts to change. As I was watching the movie, I kept thinking about the studies about untouched children in orphanages, and about how Tsotsi may not have had the psychological capacity to change without this type of early love to draw upon.
The young mother in the ghetto was also showing this type of nuturing love for her child. Also, despite living in poverty, she also had a strong moral code, as shown by her refusal to take money because she thought it might have been illegally otained. Because of the kind of nuturing she was providing, I had the feeling that her children would be all right despite the poverty.
In a classroom, I think I would use this movie to explore issues of coming of age and and finding identities, in conjunction with books that have similar themes, such as "The Outsiders." The issues of coming of age that I would like to explore include the idea that young people can change and become who they want to be, and do not need to stuck with labels or roles that others may give them.
- Laurie Burnett

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Heather Rhodes
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 00:47 (link)
I was so glad that Tsotsi was able to turn his own psyche around so quickly in the movie. Most of the time in situations like this, it takes much, much more for a wounded character to garner the courage and determination to "redeem" him/herself. This redemption, however, made me sad for him in the end, because he may never get the chance to live out that redemption; it may fade as he sits in prison or his old feelings of pain and resentment may get the better of him if he is incarcerated. In this particular situation, I do not feel that prison is the appropriate punishment - knowing what I know, Tsotsi's punishment came FIRST, his crimes second.

I'm not sure how I'd use this movie with middle school students, though, certain clips come to mind: the scene when Tsotsi revisits the "pipes" where he used to live or the end from where he leaves the woman's house to the final scene. I might use these clips to begin a Socratic seminar discussion or to compare to literature that we've read that deals with poverty, crime, turning one's life around, character's motives, etc.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

TSOTSI-Coming of age but not content related (Math)
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 04:18 (link)
As the students in the area I teach proclaim themselves as living in the ghetto, the film will be very good to show the students to see how despite living in poverty, that there are very strong moral values as well as possiblities of turning around.

In a classroom, I cannot show this because it is not related to Math. Although I can use it to talk about issues of coming of age that young people can make good choices, change and become who they want to be, get to the highest level in the society and not labels themselves or accept labels given to them by other people.

Are there suggestions as regards to content specifics.

- Mercy.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

TSOTSI commentary by Moises Garcia
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 04:20 (link)
What things stood out for you as you watched it?
What stood out from the film the most was the main character Tsotsi (later we find out his name is David). He was such a conflicted individual at the begining. The opening stick up situation was groosem and when he beat up his friend boston over what his real name was I thought that tsotsi was completely loco. However, as the movie unfolds we get a picture of tsotsi's psyche. Its not so simple to label him crazy. He has emotional bagage that has not been resolved within himself and it shows in his conflicting actions. I think I started feeling for tsotsi after he stole the car with the baby and shot the mother. Taking the baby and wanting to care of it is when we first see the sensitive side of tsotsi. In this sequence we see a glimpse of his heart that we thought was not there or had been shattered by someone else. His character stood out because at first I feared tsotsi. He seemed like a young man that didn't function rationally and peacefully. His first and only reactions we see from him at the start is violence. Then fearing tsotsi becomes semi-negated when he becomes responsible and loving, while in the back of my head you still think he might just let one of his rounds unload on someone. By the end of the film knowing tsotsi's life and situation I am rooting for him to deliver the baby and hide in the house of his beautiful women.

How would you use this film (or a clip of it) to teach your subject?

I would use the film to teach math by showing the clips of the dice games where butcher is consitently miscounting. I would connect this to probablity and the addition of integers. Other than these few clips I would not be able to show this film to 7th grade Pre-Algebra students during class.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Tsotsi_Makeisa
(Anonymous)
2007-06-03 18:54 (link)
Tsotsi was definitely a "thoughtful" movie. The things that stood out for me were the scenes depicting Tsotsi as achild and then flipping back to Tsotsi as the adult. he turmoil, pain is the same. It's as if a part of him is still childlike and enduring conflict that he experieneced yet did not recover from during his childhood. It was interesting to note the socioeconomic differences that did not cross the racial/ethnic lines. It was also interesting that even though Tsotsi had some childlike qualities, he named the baby after himself as some sort of redemption and way of saying that this baby would be a "different" David, given his circumstances.

I would probably use this movie or clips from it to discuss diversity/socioeconomic differences (Social Studies) and have students do a "compare and contrast" type of activity that they could then further analyze and engage in discussion about to understand social status and clasin our society.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

Tsotsi, jennifer floryan
(Anonymous)
2007-06-04 17:17 (link)
Third time trying this post. Although I am a third grade teacher and would not show this film in my class for obvious reasons if I were an upper grade teacher I would use it to enhance lessons on personal growth, characterization, and social class, as well as civil and human rights. The film ties into issues of overcoming adversity and personal loss and redemption. I would use this film and supplement it with showing "The Kitchen Toto" and reading "Kafir Boy." I would have them do Thinking Maps on cause and effect and compare/contrast. I would have them write their own ending to the drama and defend it. I would have them journal entry about black on black crime and pose questions as to community responsibility and/or personal responsibility. Tsotsi endured a childhood of grave loss and had little coping skills to repair his feelings of anger and pain. In caring for the baby he was re-parenting himself and in that found self compassion and healing. Many of our youth today face early lives of loss and a feeling of hopelessness. We are not meeting their mental health needs at school. They are left with little coping skills to transgress that pain and loss, and instead inflict violence inwards or outwards. Our schools lack a curriculum that addresses student's mental health needs and equips them with ways to cope with emotional pain and loss. In this film Tsotsi is attempting to know what "family" means and/or tries to have his own, he turns to the baby for that "connection" he longs for. How many of our young teen girls have babies because they "wanted something of their own, someone who would love them." When Tsotsi discovers the baby he could have abandoned the child or killed the child but instead in seeing the baby's vunerability he reaches out to the baby and finds his own humaness. There are many elements to discuss with our students in this film however I think I would open up the initial discussion to them and hear what they have to say and proceed from there, gaining insight into their lives through text to self and text to text connections, as well as where the story fits into larger social issues that are current and timeless.

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(Anonymous)
2011-05-04 05:25 (link)

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