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Finding Students' Superpowers Through the Use of Sound Judgment

At Youth Entrepreneurs, our Foundational Values not only guide behavior, they are central to our curriculum and significant in helping our students grow. Each week we explore real-world examples of Foundational Values in everyday practice and provide a catalyst for discussion which allows students to further engage and seize opportunities for good.

This week, we look at the film Black Panther in an effort to identify, relate and expand on the application of YE’s Foundational Values. We’ll look specifically at the values of Responsibility, Be Principled, Sound Judgment and Knowledge, then ask students to weigh in on the discussion.

Take a moment to read through this summary and ask students to share their thoughts on the important themes of the movie.

Let’s get started:

It took just 24 days for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther to earn over $1 billion at the global box office. Just moments into the film, it’s not difficult to understand why. The film is a classic tale of good vs. evil, set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, amidst beautiful scenery, strong characters and a plot line that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

The film’s protagonist, T’Challa, is heir to the kingdom of Wakanda, and through a series of challenges, must find a way to lead his people into the future while dealing with major issues related to the nation’s past. As challenge and conflict play out on the big screen, Foundational Values may not immediately come to mind, but if you look closely, you’ll notice they play a starring role in this film and present a unique opportunity for an important dialogue in the classroom.

When faced with challenges to his authority, T’Challa must decide how to rule in an ever-changing world. In weighing the choice between tradition and change, he must determine a path in which to lead his kingdom on, while being challenged from many sides. Through this struggle, we have the opportunity to view his actions against YE’s Foundational Values. Let’s look at a few.

Throughout the film, there is a question of how Wakanda can continue to thrive under King T’Challa, who has taken over the throne following the passing of his father. It has operated as a hidden nation up until this point and the question of isolationism is at the heart of the movie’s plot. What happens when a nation, especially one as technologically advanced as Wakanda, cuts itself off from the rest of the world? What responsibility do its leaders have to their own people and to those on the outside? This becomes a major struggle for T’Challa as he wrestles with wanting to do right by his people and stay true to the leadership of past rulers. As he weighs what responsibility he has to do the right thing for the betterment of all nations, we see what that means for the future of Wakanda.

Be Principled
When faced with the truths of his father’s past, T’Challa comes face-to-face with his cousin Killmonger, the antagonist of the film. For years, Killmonger has struggled with being abandoned by Wakanda and its people. It brings forth an important discussion on the struggle of Africans and the oppression they have faced for hundreds of years. T’Challa must come to terms with his father’s decisions and how they have not only impacted his cousin, but millions of other Africans worldwide.

Sound Judgment and Knowledge
When challenged by Killmonger, T’Challa is faced with an enormous task: remain isolated from the rest of the world, while celebrating unthinkable advances in technology, or bring others into the fold? He must reconcile decisions made by previous leaders and determine what type of leader he will become. Using Sound Judgment and Knowledge, King T’Challa decides that, although Killmonger’s efforts are not in line with Wakanda’s values, his intentions ultimately are. In the end, T’Challa forges a new path for his people, one that eliminates the isolationist practices Wakanda has been guilty of as he works alongside other nations to do good in the world.

Using this film, educators and students are presented with a unique opportunity to discuss issues that impact students and entrepreneurs on a daily basis. When faced with challenges that impact a business and society as a whole, how can Foundational Values be put into place?

The YE Foundational Values are at the heart of everything we do. And each day, students have the opportunity to put these values into practice. These Values were developed with the elements of a flourishing society in mind. By exploring real-world examples, and providing time for thoughtful discussion, we can help students apply these values to their own lives.

Looking for more ways to engage students? Head to YEAcademy.org for additional tips and tools.

Discussion Questions:

What responsibility does a nation as prosperous as Wakanda have to the rest of the world? How can we find examples of this in today’s world?

In which ways did King T’Challa show that he can Be Principled?

In which ways did King T’Challa need to use Sound Judgment? What did he ultimately decide was best for his people? Do you agree with the decisions he made, why or why not?

Though many have called Killmonger the villain of the film, did he possess any Foundational Values?  Can you make a case for him as a protagonist? Why or why not?

Which character in the film do you most identify with? Explain.

Do countries (or businesses) have an obligation to be socially responsible? What does social responsibility look like to you and how should businesses put it into practice?