I am a huge fan of movies. I never really thought much of movies as an educational tool unless I had to watch for an assignment or project. This is all the more interesting considering I am a visual learner. Most of my peers don’t typically associate “fun” or “excitement” with movies that we have to watch for educational purposes. This is slowly changing in classrooms across the country due to Black Panther. As one of the highest grossing movies of all time and the pop culture moment of the year so far, educators have been using several themes from the movie to teach a host of subjects such as colonialism, cultural representation, and Afrofuturism. A middle school teacher in Chicago has even created the “Wakanda Curriculum” for students in grades 5 through 8. Wakanda is the name of the fictional African country in the movie.
The impact of such a curriculum, especially around a cultural defining movie like Black Panther, can be enormous. The movie can inspire a generation of minority boys and girls that they too can make a difference in the world and be “superheroes.” For example, in the movie, Shuri, the younger sister of the protagonist, is in charge of all of all technology for the entire nation. Critics have hailed by most circles as a role model for young black girls who want to pursue futures in the STEM fields. Invoking concepts from a movie or any forms of entertainment that is popular with students (e.g. sports, music, fashion) is a great way to engage them and keep them motivated in the classroom. It opens their worldview and might inspire them to pursue educational and professional opportunities that couldn’t possibly imagine with the regular K-12 curriculum.