Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Avatar" Lessons

I saw "Avatar" yesterday. For two and a half hours I almost felt as if I was on Pandora and part of the Na'vi. It is a spectacular film.

As I was watching it, however, the teacher in me kept thinking about how the film could be used in the classroom. Of course, it's not going to be out on DVD for a while, but that will give teachers more time to make great lesson plans.

The movie does have a PG-13 rating, so the first thing to consider is if the children in your class are ready for the love story and the violence. There is a lot of violence. Parental permission forms might be considered.

The following are a few of the ideas that could be turned into lessons:

1. Study the environmental issues on Pandora. Compare and contrast them to those on Earth.

2. Study the attack on the World Trade Center's twin towers in 2001. Is there any comparison to the attack on the Hometree.

3. Compare and contrast the military's "shock and awe" campaign in Iraq to that in "Avatar."

4. Compare "Avatar" and "Planet of the Apes." Are the military and the scientists always on opposite sides of an issue. Do they oppose each other in our society?

5. Compare and contrast the plight of the Na'vi to that of the American Indian.

6. Compare the religion of the Na'vi to that of the American Indian and other native populations.

7. Study the science behind linking mentally with another creature. Is there any kind of research currently being done in this field and what have they found?

8. Study how the actual computer-generated images are made for a movie like "Avatar."

9. Study the symbiotic relationships between life-forms and their environments.

10. The movie has extremely strong women characters. What qualities do these women have?

11. We often try to teach children to "do the right thing." How is that message conveyed in this movie?

12. This is an excellent movie for studying main themes and symbolism.

I'm sure there are many more quality lesson plans that could come from a study of this movie. These are just a few that came to mind over the past 24 hours.

If nothing else, just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the film.


  1. I am a grade 10 Socials teacher, and I think the movie will fit in lovely with Human Impacts on the environment. As well as a transition into First Nations studies - colonization and stewardship of the land.

  2. This is the first web page I've seen that viewed this movie the same way I did. As a high school technology teacher who is concerned about the direction we as a species are going, destroy anything and everybody that gets in the way of our greed. I saw this movie as an invaluable source of lesson material for environmental awareness and respect for other people and other species. My wife and I cried all three times we saw it in the theatre, it's that real to us. I have wrote a lesson plan based around AVATAR that I would be happy to share with other teachers. I cannot beleive all the bad press this movie has received. Is it because people do not want to see who and what they are?

  3. at rod stauffer: I am an enlish teacher in germany and I wanted to make a lesson about teaching trough films: avatar, could you share your lesson plan?

  4. as a student studying the film avatar, i was wondering if you could give us answers to this questoin as it woudl help me with my essay analysis of this film? thank you

  5. To Anonymous (August 10): I'm not sure I can give you answers or not. It's been a while since I've watched the movie. What is your question?

  6. I am also a student doing this study and I had to do number 3 on your list. I was wondering what would be looking for in that answer? I am already done, but I just wanted to see if I have the right idea.

  7. To Anonymous (November 3): It's been awhile since I've watched Avatar, but I guess I would be looking for several things. First, I'd be looking for you to show knowledge of the movie and of the Iraq war and that you show an understanding of both. Second, what are the similarities in the reasons for the wars. Third, what are the differences between the war in Iraq and that on Pandora. Fourth, how did you feel about what happened on Pandora and do you feel the same way about what happened in Iraq. I guess these are the main things I'd be looking for. If you're doing a paper, make sure it's well-written. If you're doing a presentation, make sure it's impressive. Hope this helps a little.

  8. ya it did thanks :)

  9. You may want to take a look at this teacher's guide for Avatar: http://2050framework.com/article/using-the-film-avatar-in-education-2/