Schools Should Cash in on the Black Panther Effect

Black Panther.jpg

By Andrew Pillow

Are you tired of hearing about Black Panther yet? Well, get used to it. Black Panther is smashing box office records and as crazy as it seems, the movie is having an even bigger impact on culture at large. Black Panther is making waves everywhere from the runway to the all-star game.

If the movie can have an impact on music, fashion, and sports then maybe education can get in on the act.

Teachers and schools need to get in on the action and start utilizing the popularity of the movie in their classrooms. That means more than just taking students to see the movie. There are a number of ways educators can accomplish this:

1.       Comics and Literacy

This is the perfect time to infuse some comic books or graphic novels into choice reading blocks. Comics and graphic novels are a great way to engage children in reading. Older children and teens, who hate novels, often find that books with pictures make reading more palatable even if the actual subject matter is more difficult. 

This is an area where I have personal experience. I was a reluctant reader. Reluctant in the sense that I wasn’t fond of The Bluest Eye, or To Kill a Mockingbird, but I found refuge in the sports section and in comic books, specifically "Black Panther." (As a matter of fact those are mine in the picture.)

I found it easier to get invested in because the main character looked like me. I snatched up every copy I came across. Over the years, I built a vast collection and later left them to collect dust as I moved on to actual novels. But after the movie came out, I decided to pull out the old collection and show my students. The comics have had the same effect on them as they did on me once upon a time.

2.       African History and Culture  

While the comic and movie are obviously fiction, we know for a fact that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Ryan Coogler based some of the parts on real African culture. If you have any kind of unit on Africa or African culture, then there has NEVER been a better time to teach it.

Many schools have taken this opportunity to invite African storytellers and musicians. In some classes, they have read African proverbs and legends. 

3.        Writing and Creativity

Black Panther is a great film based on a great comic. Wouldn’t it be awesome if teachers took advantage of the opportunity and encouraged students to create their own stories?

In my class, I incorporate fanfiction. Students write their own stories using characters they already know from a popular show or movie. Then, they use the principles they learned from that experience to branch out and create stories of their own.

There are only so many times where something comes along popular enough to affect the classroom. Don’t let this opportunity slip by.  


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.