these obstacles, then they can beat anything. This is especially true if the
obstacles are cultural or social, like they are in Remember the Titans.
Encouragement
Encouragement seems like an obvious part of the motivational
speech, but there are many different kinds of techniques that educators
and coaches use to encourage their teams and students, and they
encourage their students/players for very different reasons. Again,
timing matters and will affect how encouragement is delivered by the
teacher/coach. There are multiple points in these films where a
motivational speech can fit in, and many of these films do have multiple
speeches, all including some element of encouragement. For this
characteristic, I will start with the teacher movies.
As stated in the previous section, the speech in Lean on Me
occurs just before the test that will decide the fate of the school. “We
sink. We swim. We rise. We fall. We meet our fate together,” says
Principal Clark, using unity to encourage these students. By creating a
group atmosphere, Clark is able to encourage his students with the
implication that the students have each other’s backs. Everybody is in
the same boat, and the students have an obligation to work hard and do
well for their neighbors. In some ways, Clark’s statement of obstacles
before the students is a form of encouragement in that it motivates
students to reach beyond a stereotype to achieve academic success.
In Freedom Writers, the encouragement aspect of the speech can
be considered “tough love.” In somewhat harsh terms, after a fight with
students about respect, the teacher states, “You think it’s going to
matter that you were an original gangster? You’re dead. And nobody—
nobody—is going to want to remember you because all you left behind
in this world is this [she holds up a racist drawing of an African
American male].” Ms. Gruwell, in this scene, goes about encouraging
her students with a tough love speech. It is clear that she cares about
her students, and she is not saying these things because she wants them
to fail but because she wants them to look at their lives and try to do
better. By being the harsh voice of reality, Ms. Gruwell is able to point
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