McFarland, USA is much more than just a sports movie. It's a feel-good movie, but it's more than that, too.
After I first watched it with my wife, I knew I wanted my students to see it. The story, based on the the fabulous Gary Smith's 11 year-old Sports Illustrated story "Running For Their Lives," is now on my top-five film list.
Here are five lessons I want my students to take from McFarland USA:
la familia: The importance of family as a primary motive is beautifully portrayed.
Empathy: I want my financially-gifted students who struggle with grade, test score and college admission stresses to empathize with kids who struggle with stresses of an entirely different kind.
Psychic Income: Not every job or career should be pursued only by the dollar figure attached to it. Coach Jim Smith worked for an income that transcended salary.
"It's whom you're with": One of life's great truths is that if you're with the wrong people (or no people) even Earth's most beautiful places won't be a happy places. But if you're with the right people, people who adopt you as family, any place can be beautiful, happy and home.
Machiavellian leadership: Particularly the ends justify the means. Sometimes I believe in it. In this case, only one of my students had watched McFarland, USA. After I offered them an opportunity for extra credit points, half of them have. I'd prefer it not be that way, but I knew that they wouldn't have watched it without the bribe. They would have missed out on a movie that has the potential to positively affect and even change them.