Ever since seeing the movie Black Panther, I’ve been fascinated by all the lessons one can take away from it. I was delighted, therefore, to learn about what the Ron Clark Academy did with their students. This nonprofit middle school, located in Atlanta, set up a three-day event in which they created classes and presentations related to Wakanda—all designed to share lessons from the movie as well as to provide the students with experiences that exposed them to African history and culture.
Before the final day that culminated with all students going to see the movie, they:
- Listened to and played characters in traditional West African stories about Anansi the Spider
- Ate Nigerian food
- Learned about African drums and dances
- Studied kinetic and potential energy in their science class and related it to the vibranium used in T-Challa’s Black Panther suit
- Made bracelets in math class like those created by Princess Shuri with “Kimoyo” beads, and then calculated the surface area of the beads
- Had a lesson in Xhosa, one of the languages spoken in the movie
- Conducted research about the real kings and queens of Africa
As the Ron Clark Academy showed, this movie provides an exciting way for students to learn science, math, and history, as well as important cultural arts. It also provides fodder for valuable critical discussions. Included in curricula that have been developed since the movie came out are discussions about:
- The legacy of colonialism
- How Africans are portrayed in the movie
- The role of Black women in Wakanda
- Racism and colorism
What would happen if middle schools all over the country did this? The Black Panther movie is such a wonderful way to interest children in learning about history, culture and important life lessons. What would happen if a Black Panther curriculum became part of every public school’s mandated curriculum?