The Butler. A Teaching Unit

Bachelor Thesis, 2015

65 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Third Lesson
2.1. Analysis of the Subject Matter: Slavery
2.1.1. Views on Slavery by John C. Calhoun Slavery a Positive Good and William Lloyd Garrison No Compromise with Slavery
2.2.1. The Three Discrimination-Scenes of The Butler
2.3. Didactic Analysis
2.4. Methodological Analysis
2.5. Lesson Plan

3. The Fifth Lesson
3.1. Analysis of the Subject Matter
3.1.1. Martin Luther King and his Speech I have a Dream
3.2. Didactic Analysis
3.3. Methodological Analysis
3.4. Lesson Plan

4. Appendix
4.1 The Teacher’s Expectations
4.2.1 On the Third Lesson
4.2.2 On the Fifth Lesson

5. Teaching Unit Plan

6. Bibliography

7. Zusammenfassung

1. Introduction

In a globalized world characterized by international private and professional relationships, above all in Europe, acquiring communicative and intercultural competences, crucially in the lingua franca English, is ever more important. These competences are also anchored in the scholastic standard for the subject of English and implicate the necessity to teach students skills, which enable them to communicate in a sensitive and differentiated way. They will then be prepared to take on international jobs, to be prevented from falling foul of misunderstandings, to question their own behavior, to be tolerant and to treat others respectfully.1

One good method of teaching these competences in an English lesson is the use of films. The widespread assumption that films only function as entertainment has to be revised, because films offer an important insight into the culture of English speaking countries and contribute a lot to communicative competences such as writing and listening.2 In comparison to other media, films contain an interaction with visual and acoustic features which opens new ways for interpretation and creative methods.3 Furthermore, films offer the possibility to practice intercultural understanding, introduce dialects and native-speaker tempo.4 The earlier students are confronted with such a tempo, the better they will tolerate the reality that not every word needs to be understood. Also, the fact that nowadays students are surrounded by new media every day justifies the usage of films. Their film reception starts already in childhood through watching TV; hence they should be taught how to analyze what they see so that they do not become mere passive consumers, but critical ones. Of course, the use of new media also increases the interest and motivation of the students because they deal with something they enjoy as a leisure activity. Furthermore, methodical pluralism is increasingly argued for, since one-sided teaching methods exclusively based on texts can deny true access to the other culture.5 Therefore, the film The Butler (2013) will be applied for this teaching unit: The main character of the film, Cecil Gaines, worked on a cotton farm and a domestic servant as a child. As he grows up, he becomes a butler and later on even a butler in the White House, where he witnesses the Civil Rights Movement of the United States through the many comings and goings of different presidents. Also, in his family the movement is clearly noticeable, as his son Luis gets into many scrapes. During the tumults of the Civil Rights Movement, the butler has to decide whether he wants to actively fight for equal rights or stay in the background. Different eras, from slavery to Obama’s presidency are depicted in the film, well illustrating the struggle for civil rights and providing a lot of opportunities for intercultural learning. Therefore, the overall topic of this teaching unit is the Civil Rights Movement of America, which will be taught in the 12th grade of an advanced course. The students will have acquired a deepened intercultural understanding before leaving school and encountering the real world, possibly visiting foreign countries after their abitur. The topic will be used to teach the cultural studies of America and expand their intercultural competences with this historical and political background knowledge. The teaching unit comprises eight lessons; two of them are discussed in more detail regarding the subject matter, didactic and methodological analysis. The used material and teacher’s expectations for two of the lessons can be found in the appendix.

2. The Third Lesson

In the first selected lesson (lesson three of the teaching unit) the overall topic is slavery and discrimination. The students will have read the speeches Slavery a Positive Good by John C. Calhoun , and No Compromise with Slavery by William Lloyd Garrison for homework set in the previous lesson and will now discuss the texts in this lesson. Finally, three scenes from The Butler depicting discrimination will be analyzed, namely the field scene, the restaurant scene and the bus scene.

2.1. Analysis of the Subject Matter: Slavery

Slavery existed in Africa long before it emerged in America. However, slavery in Africa did not mean losing all of one’s rights; slaves were still allowed to marry and own property.6 This changed for slaves held in America. The first slaves came to America in 1494 and by the 1600s the number of slaves had increased enormously. Whites needed unskilled laborers on their plantations and their prejudice as to African societies being barbarous and inferior, justified their demand for slaves. Many already perished on the voyage due to bad conditions such as hunger and diseases. They were shipped from Europe to America above all to Jamestown where they were sold to work mostly on tobacco plantations.7 At first, most of the slaves were taken to the colonies, especially Virginia, Maryland, Carolina and Georgia, to work as indentured servants gaining their freedom after seven years. However, this changed with the legislation passed in 1682 which converted every virtual black person into a lifelong slave.8 Few laws were provided for the African society trying to secure them sufficient food and clothing by their master. In 1690 gold was found which led to a spike in slavery in the 1700s. More and more slaves were taken to work in the mines, where they were exploited and exposed to hard labor just like all the other slave workers on plantations, farms and in industry. As the slave population grew, whites feared a revolt. Therefore, a slave could only leave the plantation with permission and particularly cruel penalties were given to slaves for flouting the rules.9 Slavery began to decline only slowly, so that the abolition of the overseas slave trade was only accomplished in 1808.

2.1.1. Views on Slavery by John C. Calhoun Slavery a Positive Good and William Lloyd Garrison No Compromise with Slavery

The reason why slavery endured for so long, is that whites justified keeping slaves because of black people’s assumed inferiority and because it was beneficial to American and British industry and white people in general. This was also stated by pro-slavery activists such as John C. Calhoun. In his speech Slavery a Positive Good from 1837, he argued that slavery was indispensable for the South’s commonwealth and that it provided an economic stability in the South. Since the purpose of speeches can be to convince, inform, to entertain or inspire, Calhoun clearly uses his speech to persuade, on the one hand, whites to justify slavery without a bad conscience and, on the other hand, convince the African-Americans that they should be grateful for the treatment received by whites because they would have “never attained a condition so civilized”.10 Another of his arguments states that their masters offer them good care in age and sickness. John C. Calhoun only mentions the, in his view, positive facts of slavery to protect the southern interests. He uses the same argument as, for example, Grayson and Fitzhugh, who mentioned the black’s imprudence and childlike behavior in their speeches and poems thus purporting that they needed their master’s care, which according to them, they received through clothing and food. All those pro-slavery activists leave the cruel reality unstated, namely that masters were allowed to do whatever they wanted; they could lynch their slaves, whip or behead them.11 However, many southerners were convinced of the righteousness to justify slavery as something positive. In the north, in contrast, Calhoun’s speech was rejected by the majority.

Fortunately, anti-slavery activists recognized this misconception. They argue that slavery taught Africans to be disrespectful and unreliable, as they sometimes stole food because they were hungry or they destroyed their master’s property as an act of resistance.12 One important representative of the anti-slavery movement was William Lloyd Garrison, especially with his speech from 1854 No Compromise with Slavery, in which he pointed out that slavery was evil and absolutely unjustified, and in which he questioned the Declaration of Independence guaranteeing the liberty of every human being. Garrison satirizes the arguments of pro-slavery activists such as Calhoun and contrasts South vs. North in his speech: the South is in favor of slavery because of its pecuniary interest, whereas in the North the preservation of the union is based on honor and justice.13 His speech is rather informing, for example when he explains that slaves are human as well because they also possess human feelings. However, his speech has also a convincing function: His rhetorical questions querying the justifiability of slavery make the reader rethink the situation of slavery and question the constitution. Statements such as “Liberty for each, for all, forever!”14 try to persuade the audience to act against the social ills.

The arguments of anti-slavery activists combined with two big slave revolts occurring in 1800 and 1822, and the northern abolitionist movement of 1830, which uncovered the brutality of the slaveholders, finally led to the emancipation of slaves in 1865.15 Nevertheless, the social ills had not yet vanished, which was above all discernible through the discrimination of African-Americans.

2.2. Analysis of the Subject Matter: Discrimination

Discrimination has a long tradition in America, but it is a phenomenon of the whole world implying exclusions, restrictions and treating an individual or a group unfavorably because of targeting religion, race, gender, disability, national origin, age etc.16 Arguments were always found to justify racism, discrimination and superiority17, as it is visible in Calhoun’s speech. Various forms of discrimination exist: individual and institutional / structural. In the first case, it is meted out by an individual on members of another group, but it is also possible that it is rife within the groups themselves,18 as it might be noticeable between blacks of lighter and darker skin. Institutional and structural discrimination make racism part of everyday normal life, which is discernible in exclusions regarding employment or education.19 Hence, discrimination also means exclusion of groups from certain areas, which can occur directly because of color and origin, and indirectly as in the case of the “black codes”, imposing apparently favorable laws, but at the same time also restrictions on African-Americans like testifying against whites, for example.20

African-Americans were mainly discriminated against due to their appearance, pointing at their dark skin, kinky hair and flat noses.21 In contrast, straight hair and light skin was seen as the norm and therefore African-Americans did not shy away from using bleaching crèmes and hair straightener, often connected with chemically damaging their natural hair and skin. However, African-Americans did not only have to suffer unequal and unfair treatment in regard to their appearance. Employment meant an additional form of discrimination. In 1929 during the market crash, over 40% of the black men had no work. Topping that, whites formed organizations such as The Black Shirts spreading slogans like “No Job for Niggers until Every White Man has a Job”.22 Also, the National Recovery Act (NRA) contained discrimination: it permitted employers to fire their already underpaid African-Americans and replace them with whites, which led to even worse economic conditions for black people.23 Their pay was always lower than that of whites which was justified by the common prejudicial belief that African-Americans were less intelligent.

The introduction of the Jim Crow laws aiming at preventing even the slightest contact between whites and African-Americans enhanced even more their indirect and unfair treatment. These laws were discernible through the segregation in education and the order to sit at the back of the bus, separate seating arrangements in restaurants and different drinking fountains for blacks. Even more discriminations took place such as the removal of the right to vote, the prohibition to live in white neighborhoods by the Federal Housing Administration and the exclusion from “white” cinemas and many more. To emphasize the inferiority of blacks and the desire for segregation signs like “Whites Only” or “Colored” were common.24

Although African-Americans were discriminated against in many different aspects of life, they nevertheless wanted to participate in the war as this was seen as a big opportunity to hold their own and give something meaningful to their country.25 However, discrimination was also encountered in war. Their exclusion was only abolished because of America’s need for soldiers.

In addition, discrimination was not just apparent between whites and blacks. Unfair treatment and prejudices even existed amongst African-Americans themselves. They considered others to be inferior because of shades of blackness: the darker the skin, the more inferior the person.26 Mulattos, who have a lighter skin, even wanted to pass for white. They tried to surpass blacks and justify their condescending behavior towards them by stating that they did not belong to them due to a lighter skin, more wealth and assuming the lifestyle of a white person.27 Even though the so called “one-drop rule” was established, which classified every person with a single drop of black blood as a Negro, mulattos still experienced economic advantages as they were considered to be more intelligent and attractive.28 Since every person with black blood was classed under the term “Negro”, whites were cautious not to intermix with African-Americans and to keep their family white. Therefore, anti-miscegenation laws were introduced, depriving African-Americans of the choice with whom they wanted to beget a child.29 Another common discrimination took place between African-Americans from the North and South. Southerners migrating to the North were told their language was inferior and they were backward.30

All these forms of discrimination were endured for a very long time and an attempt to abolish them only occurred during the era of the Civil Rights Movement with, for example, the emergence of freedom rides and the Black Panthers, who fought against the social oppressions. Also, president Truman tried to pass a housing bill containing antidiscrimination provisions and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 contributed to a more equal lifestyle between whites and blacks by allowing the latter to live in the suburbs, rather than just ghettos.31 Finally, the civil rights reform from 1960 officially determined that racism and discrimination became unlawful and immoral.32 Nevertheless, there was no abrupt ending to discrimination since it is still felt today, which can be seen in the persisting higher unemployment of African-Americans compared to whites.

2.2.1. The Three Discrimination-Scenes of The Butler

The first selected film scene of The Butler (min. 00.55-03.20) which takes place on a plantation shows the situation of slavery through the incorporation of cinematographic devices very realistically. The high angel showing the whole cotton field with its laborers already makes clear that such hard work was the destiny of many African-Americans. Furthermore, the use of many medium shots between the African-Americans and the master depict the existing tensions between whites and blacks. The main protagonist Cecil works on a cotton field as a child with his parents. Children had to serve as slaves from the age of 5 and were given tasks like carrying water. From 10 years old, they had to work in the field.33 The fact that the cotton field was for many their origin and destiny is also shown by the choice of frame in this scene: there is no scene which does not include cotton plants at the sides of the picture or in the background. Another fact of the film depicting reality very well shows the mother doing the same hard work a man does. Furthermore, they had to suffer discrimination by their white overseers and masters. In the movie the master even rapes Cecil’s mother. This was widespread and regular practice and sometimes used as a means to humiliate male slaves.34 When wanting to talk to the master, Cecil’s father is shot immediately. This cruel reality is supported by a close-up of the son’s face showing his disbelief. However, filing a complaint against such incidents was not an option for African-Americans because they would not have received any support from lawyers or testifiers. A law passed in 1723 legislated that whites could be indicted for murder if one white witness stated that the killing was intentional.35 Consequently, whites never had to fear the testimony of another white against them. Their loyalty to each other when directed against blacks was stronger than their morality. Hence, the scene realistically illustrates the bad conditions and discrimination slaves had to suffer every day.

The next scene, which will be analyzed with the students, is the one showing discrimination in a restaurant (min. 38.38-42.20). The restaurant scene shows above all direct racial discrimination manifesting itself in bullying and indirect discrimination, for example, through the Jim Crow laws. This is shown by the choice of frame in the film, which makes a “Colored”-sign visible in the background. The African-Americans have to experience physical violence, i.e. being hit and having hot coffee poured over them. These scenes are mostly filmed with close-ups to demonstrate the determination of the blacks to fight for their rights, but also their pain. The incorporation of the frog-perspective, i.e. looking up to whites, illustrates the superiority whites hold and their aggressiveness. The fact that these sit-ins were dangerous and troubling measures in the fight for equality is also shown by the cross-cutting between the calmed atmosphere of the White House and the loud, violent atmosphere in the restaurant. Discrimination is also represented through the use of racial terms in this scene, such as “Nigger”. In the American society, a lot of different terms were used by whites to describe skin color, hence, to describe racial quality: “high yellow” and “rusty black” were only a few of the many terms.36

The bus scene of the film depicts another form of direct and physical discrimination through the Ku Klux Klan. A seemingly peaceful ride into a better future at the beginning supported by the choice of cheerful music and switches of medium shots between black and white friends, depicting their good relationship, switches to a rapidly changing mood when the illuminated cross appears in front of them. This is illustrated even more by a strong zoom from the window of the bus to the cross. Rapid close ups of the faces show the fear and foreshadow the upcoming disaster delivered by the Ku Klux Klan. Also the use of fading in fire images foreshadow the following burning of the bus. The clan was against African-Americans and they pursued an aim of purifying America’s society. Therefore, they used very harsh forms of racism and discrimination by burning the busses of freedom rides and by following African-Americans in order to lynch and kill them.37 Their hatred of African-Americans is underlined by the cinematographic device of slow motion in the scene and the restless camera movements depict the danger of the situation for them. Especially in the South, African-Americans were mostly victims of Ku Klux Klan’s violence. This was because of the differences between North and South regarding discrimination against blacks. Whereas the North was already more advanced in terms of abolishment and anti-discrimination attitude, the South was still full of racial prejudices, above all in Miami, a city in which the Ku Klux Klan was fighting for segregation until the 1930’s.38 Finally, this discrimination of segregation in Miami was abolished in 1960 with sit-in campaigns.39 However, before the desegregation, racial hatred was still very widespread in the South, which is shown very realistically in this film scene.

2.3. Didactic Analysis

The third lesson of the Civil Rights Movement teaching unit forms part of the subject eras of history, politics and cultural studies and takes up a basic function for the following lessons as it provides students with the necessary background knowledge of slavery and discrimination.

According to the Curriculum of the Rhineland-Palatinate for English in the secondary school level, the acquisition of the following competences are aimed at: reading, writing, language and listening competence, as well as intercultural competence, social competence, cultural studies, media literacy and mediation.40 In this lesson, intercultural competence, the knowledge of cultural studies, media literacy, language competence and social competence are mainly supported because they play an important role for future jobs, journeys and the appropriate behavior in different situations. Competences such as reading and writing are trained in addition, but do not hold a main emphasis.

In a modern language lesson, especially intercultural competence should be trained, because it is elementary for living in a modern world with an international web, which is characterized by global exchange, mobility and teamwork. Intercultural competence means the ability to reflect on one’s own opinions critically, to encounter foreignness with an open mind, to be aware of prejudices and to develop sensitivity for cultural characteristics.41 This will be trained in this particular lesson through the controversial topic of slavery and discrimination, especially when evaluating the arguments of the slavery texts and when filling out the worksheet which leads to a reflection on discrimination. Above all, the film scenes facilitate the access to the topic of discrimination for students through their facial expression and gestures. Also the worksheet facilitates the accessibility of the topic for students. However, it could still be difficult for students to focus only on the necessary information, as film scenes offer a visual and acoustic input.42 This might lead to an overstimulation and students taking notes on everything without being able to focus on the task in hand.43 Therefore, only short scenes were picked with guideline questions in order to provide a frame for orientation. In the lesson phases the students are confronted with critical topics, such as bullying, harassment and abuse which should teach them reluctance as to behaving in a similar manner. Knowledge about inappropriate behavior and discrimination is especially important for the students wanting to travel to another country in future. There they have to be prepared to encounter the other culture with tolerance and respect, even when having to deal with difficult situations, such as misunderstandings or unusual cultural practices. For all these situations the student has to be prepared by having learned sensitivity in regards to the other culture as it will be acquired in this particular lesson through the teaching of cultural studies.

Cultural studies are the basis for acquiring the required intercultural competence. Only if the students are supplied with early and recent facts about American history will they be able to analyze the reasons for intercultural problems properly.44 Cultural studies should depict chances and problems of the foreign country: socially, politically and historically. This is done in this class through dealing with texts about slavery and film scenes about early discrimination incidents. Acquiring knowledge about the cultural studies of the country is essential for students because they have to become aware of cultural differences, develop respect for other lifestyles and learn to be unprejudiced.45 The reason why cultural studies are used in the third lesson of the whole teaching unit is that it lays the foundation for the following lessons. Without the knowledge of slavery and discrimination, it would be difficult for students to understand why the Civil Rights Movement even came to pass in the first place. Furthermore, the topic of slavery and discrimination is essential for talking about America’s history as it brings a lot of controversial material into the discussions and teaches to formulate one’s own opinion, which is a desirable communicative competence for secondary students anchored in the curriculum.46

Another focus in this class is put on media literacy. This is justified by the increasing use of new media in everyday life. Students are surrounded by television, films and mobile phones. This excessive use of media is going to increase even further and employers worldwide will demand knowledge of how to deal with technology, how to understand film clips and how to interpret commercials. Therefore, the film The Butler will be used to train media literacy. The Butler has a length of 132 minutes and covers many eras, from slavery to Obama’s presidency, which offers wide ranging material. The teaching unit could, in fact, be extended to 12 lessons or more. However, because of focusing mainly on intercultural competence and due to limits of space, only 8 lessons will be carried out and in this particular lesson only short film sequences will be shown, not the entire movie. Through the short film sequences, the students will be able to understand and interpret the scenes based on their pre-knowledge about slavery and the conflict between whites and African-Americans. Furthermore, they practice their viewing and listening understanding through the scenes.47 An incorporation of film analysis regarding camera, frame, light and sound will be further practiced because in the second lesson this new topic had already been introduced. However, the focus of the scenes is their content and the resulting intercultural skills acquired. Therefore, the cinematographic devices will only be treated aside to further train their media literacy. Due to that, a complete film analysis in all its facets will not be possible.

A further competence that will be taught in this lesson is speaking. According to the Curriculum for English at secondary school level, it is important to use adequate intonation, to speak correctly and fluently, to participate actively in discussions and to express one’s own opinion. These skills are practiced a lot in this particular lesson, when discussing the arguments of the slavery texts and notes on the film scenes and when informing other students about own information. One possible difficulty for the students might be understanding the authentic text, as it has not been didactically edited.48 It cannot be expected from the students to understand an authentic text in detail because for the most part they encounter didactic school book texts. Due to that, some passages of the texts were shortened and the task was reduced to scanning for the main arguments pro or contra slavery, which allows the students to skip other details or formal aspects of the text.

In addition to participating actively in discussions, expressing opinions is also important when learning speaking skills, since this is also a necessary basis for communication in a foreign country. In the discussion regarding the speeches, timid students will be motivated to say something as well, because slavery is a very emotive subject and it is important that also shy students practice speaking, since it gives them the confidence to participate in public or private conversations.49 Mediation holds an important role when learning to communicate. According to the curriculum, the students have to be able to summarize information and pass it on to their classmates, which will be trained in the group puzzle session. They will furthermore respond to questions of their classmates and provide, if necessary, additional explanations, which is also anchored as a competence in the curriculum.50 Above all, for future jobs, the acquisition of such a competence and to express oneself appropriately and in a differentiated way is desirable.

Equally important for future jobs and one’s own personality development is the acquisition of social competences. This skill is included in the lesson as well, above all in the warm-up and consolidation phase, when learning how to work efficiently with a partner or group. It is important to practice working individually and in groups, because various studies and jobs will demand different social arrangements. To improve social competences, cooperation is also necessary, in addition to representing one’s own point of view confidently,51 which will be covered in the group puzzle. Students have practiced such a cooperation since the beginning of their school career, therefore only a continuous incorporation of group work and the change of class arrangements is necessary. This will be achieved in this particular class in the “Think, Pair, Share!” activity and in the group puzzle.

The treatment of the cultural studies topic of slavery and discrimination can be justified through the overall aim of the European Union: maintaining peace.52 Furthermore, the topic has a present value for the students because Germany is now a multicultural nation. Through widespread immigration of different nations, current incidents of racial discrimination in Germany have become every day affairs. The fact that this topic connects to the students’ present reality enforces even more the need to teach the students appropriate behavior. At the same time, students are highly motivated when recognizing that the topic ties immediately in with their lives. Not only in Germany, also other nations have become more multicultural; above all Europe allows free movement between the different countries. Mobility has increased enormously. Due to that, it is important that students are well prepared regarding language sensitivity. Being aware which terms and behavior are appropriate and which are already seen as discrimination are essential to avoid misunderstandings and can be trained during this particular lesson on slavery and discrimination.53

2.4. Methodological Analysis

The warm-up of this lesson occurs through the correction of the homework, which contained to read the speeches by John C. Calhoun Slavery a Positive Good (M1) and William Lloyd Garrison No Compromise with Slavery (M2) and to make notes on their arguments in favor of or against slavery. It would have been possible to exchange the texts by Calhoun and Garrison with many other texts on that topic, as for example the slavery poem of William J. Grayson The Hireling and the Slave and the text of Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address. However, a poem would have demanded too much literacy competence for reading alone at home, as it hides its arguments in metaphors and other stylistic devices. The text by Abraham Lincoln would have only depicted the right for African-Americans to participate in the war, which does not offer sufficient arguments for their freedom and equality. Therefore, the texts by Calhoun and Garrison seem more appropriate as they include a lot of different arguments and depict the two contrasting perspectives very well, which are therefore easily comparable. Their incorporation into the teaching unit is important because they are authentic texts from the American literature of the 19th century. Through the task of scanning the texts for the main arguments, a reading method is practiced which, besides intensive reading, extensive reading and skimming, should be acquired by students according to the curriculum.54

The homework is used, on the one hand, to correct and affirm their findings and, on the other hand, it already introduces the following topic of discrimination. The blackboard management based on the homework and provided by the teacher serves the better illustration of the two different views on slavery and shows the students that Calhoun’s speech is the discriminating one.

The method of “Think, Pair, Share!” was chosen for many reasons. Firstly, because it teaches many social forms, including individual work, pair work and group work. As already mentioned, it is anchored in the curriculum that social competence should be trained since cooperation is a skill which is needed on many occasions.55 Secondly, this method seemed appropriate because when working individually students can first recall their arguments and are not thrown straight into the topic. When working in pairs the opportunity for every student to speak is increased. They can further exchange their ideas and manifest correct assumptions, which helps also timid students to gain confidence and prepare themselves for later class discussions. Hence, in this phase, they can activate their language and speaking skills.56

The following group work in form of a “group puzzle” is a good time-saving method and avoids redundancies.57 Only through such a method is it possible to deal with so much information in a short time, as it is the case for the three selected film scenes. Of course, it would have been possible to show only one scene and discuss it with the whole class, but this would have depicted only one form of discrimination. The students should acquire intercultural competence in this phase. Because of that it is necessary that different kinds of discrimination are shown to them so that they develop a differentiated view. Besides, the students are already warmed up through “Think, Pair, Share!” to talk in groups, so the following group puzzle presents a good connection to the previous warm-up phase. The reason for students having to draw a ticket depicting their scene is time; it also avoids discussions and mixes up the groups. Mixing up the groups is important as it enables students to work not only with friends, but also gives them the opportunity to defend their own views to other persons who might hold different opinions.58

The students have to read the worksheet questions (M3) first, so that they can already concentrate on the most important points, when watching the scene. These questions should show them that structuring learning processes is important and facilitates the reception of information.59 An alternative would have been to incorporate the topic of discrimination through a factual text, but the film scenes make the topic more accessible to students through the incorporation of gestures and facial expressions, which depict the feelings of the protagonists. This facilitates the students’ understanding as to discrimination being hurtful and that it should be avoided. They might also realize a change of perspectives more easily. Furthermore, film is a useful medium because it offers a native-speaker tempo and teaches students viewing competence and global listening.60 As already mentioned, due to the length of the film it is more convenient to transform its usage in the lesson into the so called “Sandwich-Approach”. This approach makes it possible to show only essential scenes and hence saves time.61 Watching the whole movie would firstly claim too much time and secondly overtax the students with input.62

The guiding questions on the worksheet as a while-viewing activity were created to avoid passive viewing of the scenes, to secure their understanding and to train the students’ ability to scan information for the most important points, hence to scan the film for facts on discrimination.63 Whereas the focus in the first three questions is on comprehension and viewing competence, the last question depicts an increase on demand: the students have to evaluate the situation and develop own ideas as to how to solve discrimination. This increase is important according to “Bloom’s Taxonomy”, because it trains also higher-order thinking and avoids the reproduction of only factual material.64 The second question demanding media literacy was included in order to practice the gained knowledge of the previous lesson and deepen their film analyzing competences.

In the last part of the group puzzle, the students mix up their groups again so that there is an expert for every scene in every group. They have to explain their findings and eventually respond to questions of their classmates and add extra information if necessary. This method reduces the proportion of the teacher speaking from the front and puts the students nearly in the position of the teacher, as they have to pass information on to their classmates. This trains their communicative competence and skills in mediation, which should be practiced according to the curriculum.65 Working in groups enables them further to participate actively, not passively. Hence, they will produce active knowledge which will be anchored better and retrieved more easily than lethargic knowledge.66

The film scene will be watched twice because of the immense visual and auditory input of films. Also, the rare use of films in class requires that they approach the analysis of films in stages and that sufficient time to make use of the given information is granted. The first time they see the scene is used to just concentrate on watching with the guideline questions in mind. The second time the students will have enough time to watch the scene, make notes and answer the questions.

In the conclusion phase of this lesson, a method will be applied that recalls the opinions of the whole class quickly: the so called “Round Robin”. The advantage of this method is that all students are activated to rethink and reflect on the lesson and their gained knowledge. It trains students to articulate their phrases briefly and precisely, which is also anchored in the language competence of the curriculum.67 Even timid and quiet students are taught to articulate themselves clearly and confidently.68 Through this method, the teacher can further check how the students have adopted the new knowledge and how they evaluate, as for this particular class, slavery and discrimination. It is likely that following the statements of some students, the answers will be repeated. Therefore, two questions were chosen “I learned today that slavery…” and “I learned today that discrimination…”, which, on the one hand, differentiate the answers more and, on the other hand, give the teacher an insight into the opinions regarding both taught topics. There is the risk that some students adopt John C. Calhoun’s speech as the correct version. Although the teacher tries to prevent this through the blackboard management, there is nevertheless a low chance that some students read this text as correct. That is the reason, why the method of “Round Robin” is applied since it insures the teacher that the students adopt slavery and discrimination as something that should be avoided.


1 Cf. Kulturministerium 2012: 11, 13, 19, Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 7

2 Cf. Nünning, Surkamp 2006: 245 ; Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 97

3 Cf. Nünning, Surkamp 2006: 245

4 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 101

5 Cf. Nünning, Surkamp 2010: 43

6 Cf. Levine 1996: 6

7 Cf. Levine 1996: 12-13

8 Cf. Levine 1996: 18

9 Cf. Levine 1996: 19-21

10 Calhoun 1837: 1, l. 33

11 Cf. Levine 1996: 21

12 Cf. Smith 1999: 73, Henderson 2009: 159

13 Cf. Garrison 1854: 3, l. 99-102

14 Cf. Garrison 1854: 3, l. 116

15 Cf. Levine 1996: 14

16 Cf. Kamali 2009: 3, 9; Lang 2007: 266

17 Cf. Kamali 2009: 4

18 Cf. Kamali 2009: 5

19 Cf. Kamali 2009: 6

20 Cf. Levine 1996: 95

21 Cf. Wayne 2014: 102-103

22 Wayne 2014: 61

23 Cf. Wayne 2014: 65

24 Cf. Wayne 2014: 65, 68, Levine 1996: 116, 176

25 Cf. Wayne 2014: 70, 72

26 Cf. Wayne 2014: 81

27 Cf. Wayne 2014: 84, Levine 1996: 95

28 Cf. Wayne 2014: 87

29 Cf. Wayne 2014: 96

30 Cf. Levine 1996: 90-91

31 Cf. Wayne 2014: 141, Levine 1996: 176

32 Cf. Wayne 2014: 116

33 Cf. Levine 1996: 59

34 Cf. Levine 1996: 58-60

35 Cf. Levine 1996: 18

36 Cf. Wayne 2014: 79, 85

37 Cf. Levine 1996: 116

38 Cf. Davis 2001: 111-112

39 Cf. Davis 2001: 121

40 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 26-37

41 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 7

42 Cf. Nünning, Surkamp 2006: 245

43 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 27

44 Cf. Grimm 2010: 104

45 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 9

46 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 27

47 Cf. Kultusministerium 2012: 20; Nünning, Surkamp 2006: 265

48 Cf. Sommerfeldt 2012: 156, 158

49 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 27

50 Cf. Kultusministerium 2012: 18

51 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 37

52 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 225

53 Cf. Kultusministerium 2012: 20

54 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 28

55 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 25

56 Cf. Griesler-Kindel et al. 2006: 186-187

57 Cf. Griesler-Kindel et al. 2006: 60; Sommerfeldt 2012: 156

58 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 25

59 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 35

60 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 101

61 Cf Thaler 2012: 266

62 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 27

63 Cf. Decke-Cornill, Küster 2010: 102; Nünning; Surkamp 2006: 268

64 Cf. Zepeda 2009: 55

65 Cf. Kultusministerium 2012: 18

66 Cf. Nünning, Surkamp 2006: 63

67 Cf. Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung 1998: 27

68 Cf. Griesler-Kindel et al. 2006: 147

Excerpt out of 65 pages


The Butler. A Teaching Unit
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz  (Amerikanistik)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
The Butler, Filmanalysis, History of America, Slavery, Teaching Unit, Lesson Plan, Didactic Analysis, Methodological Analysis, Discrimination, Teaching Material, Marthin Luther King, Calhoun, Garrison, Civil Rights Movement, Teaching with Films
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Sarah Antonia Gallegos García (Author), 2015, The Butler. A Teaching Unit, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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