The movie “The Blind Side” depicts the story of an adolescent whose upbringing is impacted negatively by familial, experiential, environmental and cultural factor, which influences the early formation of his worldview. After a life changing experience, he is provided with support that enables him to alter his worldview and overcome adversity. Through empowerment and encouragement, the adolescent manages to achieve both academic and athletic success.
Summary of the Movie
The Blind Side is a 2009 American film that is an adaptation of NFL player Michael Oher and his journey to success. In the film, an oversized, undereducated and poor teenager is seen struggling with life. He is raised in a broken homeless African-American family, with a single mother who is a drug addict. He is later taken in by a wealthy white family known as the Touhys. This family nurtures him and helps him realize and fulfill his full potential. The Touhys also make great discoveries in the process of how a collection of factors not only impact our worldview but our collective development. Michael Oher, while living in a new environment and a relatively different culture, can develop a new worldview by focusing on athletics and education. In the long-run, he overcomes both challenges due to the help of his foster family, where he is adopted as the movie comes to a close. Throughout the movie, the message that is passed on to the viewer is that any adolescent, if offered the right motivation and a balance of environmental, familial, cultural and experiential factors, could work hard and overcome challenges.
As a homeless teenager brought up in a broken family, Michael Oher’s worldview is marred by a feeling of self-pity, and hopelessness. He is tormented by lack of shelter, formal education and other basic needs such as clothing and shelter. He probably views his African-American culture as a setback to the achievement of his goals. This summarizes his adolescent worldview in a negative life where he lives in a prolonged state of suffering and hopelessness. This is attributed to familial, experiential, cultural and environmental factors. Nonetheless, after his adoption by Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy, his worldview slowly transitions from negative to positive. His hopeless situation turns around into a hopeful one. The care and goodwill of the Tuohy make him regain his self-esteem and his urge to be successful.
Influences on Oher’s Worldview
Oher’s environment suppresses the ability to explore his talent in athletics given that he has the physique that could support his being a successful football player. Living in the streets makes it hard for Michael Oher to discover neither his academic potential nor his athletic talent. His family setup is also a key determinant in setting his worldview since his parents are both drug addicts and unconcerned about his personal growth. This is in spite of the fact that adolescents require a lot of guidance from their guardians and parents to form a suitable worldview. In addition to his African-American cultural heritage and hopeless experiences, Oher is made to believe that he is an inferior human being who is incapable of both academic and athletic success. This changes, however, when he is taken in by a wealthy white family who provides him with familial support and a conducive environment.
Strop (2016) proposes the use of cognitive behavioral counseling strategies. They are effective in reversing underachievement among students. It is noted that underachieving students are an enigma to educators, their parents and at times, to themselves. Such students are full of promise but familial, environmental, cultural aspects and experiences make them fall back to their underachieving patterns. Previous research by psychologists aimed at understanding the human brain has shown that when a person stays in a state of depression or underachievement for a long period, they become used to the situation too much that it becomes hard for them to improve their worldview. As a result, psychologists propose that people have to change their cognitive behavior and thought patterns in favor of productive behavior.
Cognitive behavior counseling strategies go hand in hand with the learning theory where underperforming teenage students have to understand that education and athletics are most effective when undertaken with low stress and high engagement levels (Lee, 2016). Based on this understanding, these children could be made to recognize when they are being stressed and how to manage their stresses. Such students could equally mitigate these setbacks through biofeedback, visualization, and positive self-talk (Strop, 2016). Other strategies include; first, repeated affirmations strategy involves creating and sustaining a positive attitude through self-affirmations (Strop, 2016). It is a way of reassuring oneself that everything will be fine in spite of current challenges a person is going through. The second strategy is practicing new behaviors in a safe environment (Strop, 2016). Strop, (2016) associates this strategy with learning complex processes involved in behavior change within a supportive and safe environment. This enables the learner to get feedback on new behavior acquired. The process of teaching new skills will involve three steps of visualization, feedback, and role-playing (Strop, 2016). This strategy is most suited for athletes as they can visualize complex physical movements. The third strategy is setting realistic goals and it is suited to underperforming students who often set discouraging targets that could be easily attainable or impossible to reach (Strop, 2016). They have to be taught how to set realistic goals in life. The fourth strategy involves raising energy, which is often achieved through physical exercises, keeping fit and healthy as well as working under self-imposed timelines (Strop, 2016). The last strategy is recognizing negative thought patterns and transforming them into positive transformed self-talk, which can help break the underachieving cycle (Strop, 2016). All these strategies apply to the case of Oher who could apply any of the strategies to improve t self-esteem and trigger positive personal improvement.
My culture consists of being the underdog but also being seen as someone superior. I have seen members of my culture being reminded that our Jewish ancestors were once seen as the bottom of the totem pole. I have seen members of my culture using their status as a Jewish businessman to get their way in society. Since I have seen the way people who identify the same way as being a Jew I have seen that people of any culture can be seen in anyway but it depends on the eyes that see them. I value community and family in my life, which impacts the way I like to counsel. I like to include the nature of the family dynamics while speaking to a client, because the family can make a big impact on how treatment is benefiting the client outside of sessions. I also like to include the chosen community when speaking to the client. I understand community as something that can be of any culture. It could be the gaming culture or the social media culture of being an online celebrity. I don’t see community and culture being based on just religion, race, ethnicity, or demographics.
I have seen the ways my upbringing limited me, which is making it more difficult for me to connect with those clients who like to include their religion that is different from mine in treatment. I was in a Jewish school for most of my childhood so as a child I didn’t need to understand the religious values or traditions of other religions because no one from school believed in those. It has made me more attentive to clients when they speak about their religion in high regards. When they mention something I am unfamiliar with I have no problem asking for some clarification but then I take the time outside of session to educate myself more on the topic. I have learned that it isn’t my client’s job to teach me. The way my Jewish community can be seen as ignorant and snobby makes me want to learn more about others to show that not all people from the community meet that stereotype. In the past when people have showed interest in my religious beliefs because they are what I identify with most in my own personal values, I feel flattered and excited. I want to show that same interest in my client’s to show that I appreciate that they are open but also that I don’t want them to shy away from something just because I don’t fully understand every aspect.
I think all our life experiences are unique and wonderful in their own way. They come with life lessons and the thrill of living the way we choose to. I try to take that into every session with my clients. My life experiences should not be seen as better than my client’s experiences. I will continue to work on being more culturally competent since it can make the greatest impact in a session with a client.
The movie Blind Side presents a situation where cognitive behavior counseling strategies are applied. This is depicted in the way an underachieving teenager transforms his worldview and exploits his athletic and academic potential, thus leading to a successful football career. Oher adopts the learning theory, which enables him to change his attitude, manage his stress levels and sustain high engagement levels.
Lee, S. Y. (2016). Navigating Talent Development by Fulfilling Gaps between Gifted Potential and Performance. In Giftedness and Talent in the 21st Century (pp. 235-254). London: Sense Publishers.
Strop, J. (2016). Using Cognitive Behavioral Counseling Strategies to Reverse Underachievement. New York: Open Space Communications LLC.