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Going To College: What The Great Debaters And How She Move Have In Common

Mar 6, 2008
Can the movies The Great Debaters and How She Move share a moral? I think so. Both movies cover young people making changes in their lives and trying to get ahead. One movie is Oscar quality - The Great Debaters. The other, How She Move, falls more in the after school special quality arena.

But both have a valuable message, and what is it? Stay in school. Finish your education. Make a difference by becoming an asset to your community.

The Great Debaters
This movie should win some great awards. It deals with the Jim Crowe conditions that blacks faced during the depression, and the difficulty of living at that time. It shows that many worked toward a future that would end those problems for future generations.

By following the debate team from Wiley College, you see the hope of strong willed people willing to work for a better future. You find a dedicated professor, Melvin Tolson, played by Denzel Washington, teaching a new debate team how to prepare, address a crowd, persuade, write, and even promote their winning team. Also, you see young college students become adults, ready to help their community and improve their country.

Based on a true story, the debate team wins repeatedly, escapes a lynch mob, and overcomes personal demons to succeed. Professor Tolson works to improve his students, but also his community. One of the finest moments in this film occurs after he has been arrested for attempting to form a union.

Tolson's friend and an administrator at Wiley College, James Farmer Sr., persuades the local sheriff (played by John Heard) to let Tolson go home, and avoid a riot. Dr. Farmer's son, Junior, watches this exchange. He realizes that he has witnessed a great debate, a real one. Not like the staged debates he has been party to on the team, this one can end in peace for their town or real bloodshed. It is a stirring moment.

At the end of the movie, this same young man shows he has come of age as he argues a point in a debate. He shows he has mastered his education, but even more, that he has grasped that it is real, not just learning from a book.

This movie teaches that with a good education, you can become an asset to your community. You can change the world. The money for college that you need does not amount to much, and you can find a way to finish and make a difference.

How She Move
Why would How She Move have anything in common with The Great Debaters? Both of them illustrate that an education can make a huge difference in our society, and in your future contribution. You can overcome even great odds to go to college and earn a degree.

Finding the money to go to college is a short term problem. Earning a degree offers a long term distinction that will serve you your whole life. In How She Move, the main character, played by Tre Armstrong, needs to earn money to go to college.

And if you've seen the trailer, you may think that she uses her wiles to do it. Not the case. How She Move has a few dance scenes, but nowhere near as many as Take the Lead, Dirty Dancing, or other similar movies. The film limits itself to step dancing, which usually happens as a team of men or women with choreographed moves.

In the end, she still needs to earn money for college. To make ends meet, she joins the underdog step team in her neighborhood and tries to shake up their plans. When the team hits a set back (another team cracks their steps, in other words copies them) she can finally help them excel. And she does it without drugs, too.

In a sense, both of these movies show that you can come from anywhere and make a difference. You can start with nothing and become a force for good or at least rise above the problems around you. Granted, one does it with flair and drama. The Great Debaters is a must see, but you can still learn something from the other as well.
About the Author
And if you need money for college but don't know your FAFSA from the EFC, come to Beat-Tuition.com to learn how to earn credits cheap and download my free short report on financial aid.
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