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ESE548 : The Class : Movie List

Movie and Book Lists

In this course you will be making a critique of a number of books or movies about youngsters and their life stories. One of the most important goals of this course, at least for me, is to give form and substance to the youth you will be teaching. I do not want you to take this course to learn to label better. I hope this course will inspire you to teach better, love more freely and accept the human condition and what it means to have a dedication to children and the community at large.

There are three sections to this site:

All the critique forms are available here

Addresses are located here to help you locate film lists

A list of movies that are personal favorites is provided to get you started on finding your own award winners..



Option 1: Checklist for Characterization

List the main characteristics of the service category Characteristics portrayed

1. Using the table above as a guide, write out a list of characteristics. For instance, if you choose to watch Rain Man, you are examining autism. So, first list the general characteristics of a youngster diagnosed with autism.

2. Next make a list of the characteristics of the main character who portrays the service category in the movie. For instance, if you choose to watch Rain Man, you are examining how Raymond portrays autism.

3. Write a one minute comparison of the differences between the list of characteristics that are generally recognized as part of the things a person might do who needs services and the way the character portrayed the special needs. If you choose to watch Rain Man, you are examining the classic or general characteristics of autism and the way Raymond portrayed them.

Option Two: Social, Cultural, and Economic Honesty

1. Write a brief essay on the social, cultural and economic honesty of the book or movie. Use the following instructions to guide your writing.

  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the main character portrayed in the book / movie.

  • Provide a social context for the story and compare it with your own belief about schools or families.

  • Were there any cultural issues addressed? If so, what were the pros and cons?

Example: In My Left Foot, the era and culture had a great bearing on how the Brown family was expected to cope with a youngster with cerebral palsy. This varies greatly from the reception of Steven Hawkings, born nearly a century later. These represent both cultural and social issues.

  • Explore the role of parents and extended family members, if applicable.

  • Did the portrayal discuss the economic realities of the situation? If not, what do you think the ramifications might be?

Example: In the Helen Keller story, the family is well to do and can afford to hire someone to care for Helen. How would the story be different if the family had a marginal income?

Option 3: Historic Perspective

Title Main Character - Date
Movie or Book Category







Provide the following information about the movie or book:

Movie or Book?
Main Character
Category Date

Option Four Checklist for Need Fulfillment

To complete this assignment successfully, you should:

  1. Provide the following information about the movie or book:
      Movie or Book?
      Main Character
  2. Check Yes or No to guide your analysis of the book or movie.

Title: Main Character: Date:
Movie or Book: Category:

Physiological needs met

Food Yes No
Shelter Yes No
General health Yes No
Reasonable and consistent limits Yes No

Safety needs met
Home Yes No

Parents Yes No
Siblings Yes No

School Yes No

Teachers Yes No
Peers Yes No


Affection shown Yes No
Promises made are kept Yes No
Someone listens Yes No
Child has own possessions Yes No
Child has personal space Yes No
Child is loved unconditionally Yes No

Esteem Needs

Child is given opportunities to give to others, do for others
Yes No
Child has open ended opportunities to make choices
Yes No
Child's strengths are the focus of most attention
Yes No
Child's weaknesses lead to adaptations and face saving
Yes No
Unmet needs do not go unnoticed or denied
Yes No
Focus is on developmentally appropriate rather than remedial activities
Yes No


Option 5: Philosophy

1. Philosophy about Serving Students with Special Needs / Categories

Write a brief essay (250 - 500 words) addressing some of the following issues in special services. Remember that you will only be able to address a few of the most salient points presented in the material.

  • What is the current explanation for the need for services to youth with disabilities?
  • How does the story or movie portray the student?
    Does it look at the individual
    Does it address strengths or weaknesses
    Is the story about victimization or heroism
    How much of the story is realism and how much is glitz, glory, or groans?
  • Who or what is responsible for the person having disabilities? Nature, parents, environment?
  • How does the story represent the family? Helpless, angry, victimized, grieving, coping, loving, sensitive, anxious, alone?
  • How are the career and life expectations represented for the student?
  • Is inclusion a viable school setting for students?
  • What is the role of the teacher?
  • What role do parents play in providing educational services?
  • How does the community respond?

Option 6: Sensitivity Rating

Off and on through the centuries, we have decided that parents are to blame for children with disabilities. For some reasons we love to play "Wheel of misfortune." In the past we blamed parents by saying that they sinned, so the children showed the evil in the parents. Once in a while we blame society. "It's the electricity outside the house." "It's in the drinking water." But mostly, we bust the chops of the family. I remember reading a story about an autistic child and the parents were told that they caused the problem by having a bare bulb over the child's crib.

Write a one minute essay addressing the following:

  • How sensitive was your story?
  • How honest was the portrayal
  • Who was the recipient of the sensitivity?
  • Did the story play "Wheel of Misfortune?"
  • Who got the worst press?

Addresses for Movie and Book Lists

Autism Traumatic Brain Injury
Communications Learning Disabilities Visual Impairment
Emotional and Behavioral Development Delayed and MR Gifted
Hearing Loss Physical Disabilities Health Problems



Autism *Rainman *Son-rise (B) *Out of Silence (B) *Emergence (B) *Without Reason (B) Health Problems *Lorenzo's Oil *My Left Foot *Death be not Proud *The Boy in the Plastic Bubble *The Secret Garden *Heidi *Steel Magnolias *The Elephant Man *Lad, a dog *Of human bondage Traumatic Brain Injury *Awakenings *Mask *The diving bell and the butterfly (B) *The shattered mind (B)
Communications *Nell *Johnny Belinda *Long Journey Back *World according to Garp *A Fish called Wanda *Life is but a Dream *Primal Fear *The pain of shyness (20/20)* This side is god Learning Disabilities *Manchild in the promised land (B) *Sling Blade *What's eating Gilbert Grape *F.A.T. City (video) *The Heart is a Lonely Hunter *Nell *Nunzio *American Gothic

Visual Impairment *Patch of Blue *The Miracle Worker *Wait until Dark * King Lear *Wild hearts can't be broken *Cactus Flower

Emotional and Behavioral *The Bell Jar *Lizzie *I Never Promised you a Rose Garden *David and Lisa *Psycho *Prince of Tides *The Snake Pit *Sybil *Silence of the Lambs *Clockwork Orange *Sound and Fury Developmentally Delayed and MR *PS, You're not Listening (B) *Broken Cord *The Summer of the Swans (B) *The child who never grew (B) *The Wild Boy of Aveyron (B) *Of Mice and Men *Flowers for Algernon *Tim *Welcome Home Jellybean Gifted *Little Man Tate *Powder *Good Will Hunting *Goonies *National Velvet *Little Miss Marker *Amadeus *Searching for Bobby Fischer *Paper Moon *Weird Science
Hearing Loss *Looking for Mr. Goodbar *Amy *Beethoven, Days in a Life *The Miracle Worker *Johnny Belinda *Deliverance *Mr. Holland's Opus *Children of a lesser God Physical Disabilities *Born on the Fourth of July *Chariot Races *Whatever happened to Baby Jane * My Left Foot *Gattaca *The other side of the mountain

Once you have finished you should:

Go back to Frequently Asked Questions

E-mail J'Anne Affeld at

Course developed by J'Anne & Martha Affeld


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