Film Handout: Higher Learning
Film: Higher Learning (1995)
Directed by John Singleton, the youngest director nominated for an Oscar, for his earlier, breakout film, Boyz n the Hood (1991). Higher Learning depicts racial and cultural strife, as well as growth, change, and identity formation in the college years at a contemporary university.
Bonus Trivia, not found on imdb.com! Q: What book does Kristen have open on her face when she is sleeping in the lounge, when her boyfriend Wayne wakes her up? A: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy by Bernard Williams.
Questions for Discussion
1 What do you notice about Columbus University that resonates with your personal experience, and what does not so resonate?
2 Comment upon the transformations that occur for the main student characters:
3 Comment upon the pedagogy and professorial behavior of Professor Maurice Phipps.
4 Comment upon the conversation between Malik and Fudge about the reasons for going to college (money or knowledge).
5 Comment upon the depiction of the campus police.
6 What influence, if any, does Deja have upon Malik?
7 Comment upon the view of college athletics, particularly the black student athlete, in this film.
8 Professor Phipps challenges his students to formulate their own political ideologies. Do you think any of the students succeeded in this project?
9 Which student (Kristen, Malik, or Remy) most successfully formed an identity? Were the college and its curriculum and culture responsible for such?
10 Do you see any similarities between the fraternity brothers and the skinheads?
11 Comment upon the use of language by the students and by Professor Phipps.
12 Does Professor Phipps’s academic area (political science) influence his views?
13 Comment upon the word on the screen at the end of the film.