Teaching English social studies using the Film Gran Torino

I have chosen to use the film Gran Torino in my class. I’m using it to cover the following curriculum topic:

Reflect on how cultural differenced and dissimilar value systems can affect communication. It can also be used in addressing globalization and multiculturalism.

Gran Torino is directed by Clint Eastwood who also has the lead role in the movie. It raises a number of issues, including ethnic relations, immigration, economic changes in America, life in urban America, individual violence and conflict resolution.

Classroom application before watching movie:

  1. Before watching the movie see the trailer below
  2. Then in groups of 4 discuss these questions:

Questions for discussion.

  • What obligations, if any, do nations have towards refugees?
  • What obligations does the United States have to people, such as the Hmong, who fight alongside the U.S. in its foreign wars?
  • What challenges do immigrants face in starting new lives for themselves?
  • How do Hollywood films portray people of different races and ethnicities?

Classroom application after watching movie:

  1. Watch the movie
  2. Read the pdf found here, and look at the questions. Choose 5 questions to answer and write about on your blog. The questions should be important to the understanding of the movie.
  3. Take a look at this page for ideas. The purpose of this paper is to provide a means by which social studies instructors may use the film “Gran Torino” to explore a number of themes related to globalization and multiculturalism, the complexity and interconnectedness of which is often difficult for high school students to understand.

Part two found here!


Categories: Lesson plans

12 replies

  1. Thanks for sharing you info. I am a teaching who is looking at using this movie although I have some reservations about the language and am looking at how that ways in with way racism is addressed in movie.

  2. Thanks for your post. Just wanted to let you know that we have moved our work on Gran Torino, which was formerly at Google Knol, to WordPress. It can be found here: http://2050framework.com/article/using-the-film-gran-torino-as-part-of-a-high-school-social-studies-curriculum/ Thanks again for linking to us.

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  9. Movie is based on stereotypes, full of overacting and too unhinged from reality to be effective…highly over-rated.

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