This is a 1 or 2-day lesson for teaching hardships faced during the Great Depression using video clips from the movie, Cinderella Man from 2005. After reading some background information about a boxer named James Braddock, students immediately jump into a pre-video brainstorm. Braddock broke his hand and then loss everything in the Crash of ’29 and ensuing Great Depression. Students will pretend that they are part of his family as they struggle with several hardships. The handout has questions that accompanies the video clips with stoppages for students to answer some self-reflecting questions about what they might have done if they were in certain situations in 1933. The handouts are divided into two parts. There is a key included.
Part I uses an 8-9 minute clip from the beginning of the movie set in September of 1933 and it focuses on:
• Hardships paying bills, feeding your family, and poor living conditions.
• Hardships finding a job.
• Introduction to the term breadline in context.
• Hardships of being a child; issues of child abandonment.
Part II uses a clip 13-minute clip set in December of 1933 and it focuses on:
• How a mother might deal with raising three children as the gas and electric get shut off in the winter.
• What if a child gets ill?
• What might the mother do if she feels that the kids might be better off somewhere else?
• How the father copes with an internal struggle as to whether or not to beg people for money or even accept public assistance [welfare] from the Federal Relief Administration FERA].
Summation: After watching the clips and role-playing how students might have dealt with these Great Depression problems, my students have come away with a greater understanding and empathy for those that suffered during the Great Depression. The acting is incredible and it is a wonderful movie. I have provided an annotated answer key as well as a movie counter for exactly when the clips begin and end for easy stoppages and to fast forward to the next clip. This lesson is engaging and very informational and highly motivational for students!
Note: You will need to purchase or rent the movie, "Cinderella Man" in order for this lesson to work.
Cinderella Man. Prod. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Perf. Paul Giamatti, Renee Zellwegger, and Russell Crowe. Universal Pictures, 2005.