Teach With Movies Re-publishes its Learning Guide to The Ox-Bow Incident, Helping History Teachers Show Students the Importance of Due Process

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Viewers of the Ox-Bow Incident receive a gut-wrenching lesson in what happens when there is a rush to judgment in which the presumption of innocence is abandoned, procedural protections are thrown aside . . . and three innocent men are hanged. TeachWithMovies.com announces re-publication of its popular Learning Guide to the film. With a little scaffolding, “The Ox-Bow Incident” is a great civics lesson.

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TeachWithMovies.com provides Lesson Plans & Learning Guides to over 350 films.

The film conveys a powerful lesson in justice, conformity, masculine role identity, guilt and the risks of mob rule

“. . . with liberty and justice for all.” Students repeat those words in classrooms all across America. But do they understand in their hearts the profound importance of justice and the necessity for due process? What is the significance behind this simple, yet profound statement? Due process of law is the legal requirement that individuals cannot be punished except upon a legal proceeding with safeguards to protect their rights. Now educators can teach these essential principles to middle and high school students on an emotional as well as a cognitive level.

To help teachers provide the emotion in lessons about due process, TeachWithMovies.com, the web’s leading provider of film-based educational resources, has developed a Learning Guide based on the classic film “The Ox Bow Incident.”

“The Ox Bow Incident” shows just how badly things can go wrong when the requirements of due process are abandoned. The Learning Guide contains a helpful background section, numerous discussion questions, a short essay on due process of law in the trial of criminal cases, and writing assignments. The one-two punch of academic rigor and the emotions created by the film, will ensure that the importance of due process is not overlooked by students who watch the film as just some dry repetition of principles.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, which is often used by ELA teachers. While TWM’s Learning Guide to the film also has an ELA component, using the movie to teach due process is an innovation pioneered by TWM.

The story takes place in a small frontier town in Nevada during the 1860’s. The town is rocked by the news that a respected rancher has been murdered. The sheriff is out of town and impatient townspeople come together and form a posse that is out for blood.

Three strangers are soon found herding cattle marked with the brand belonging to the rancher. They claim they bought the cattle, but there is no bill of sale. One of the strangers has the rancher's gun. He tells the posse that he bought it from the rancher, but again, there is no evidence of this. Most of the posse wants to string the strangers up immediately. A few argue that the posse should wait and turn the strangers over to the sheriff. What will the posse do?

The men are hung and then, just afterwards, the rancher who had been thought to have been murdered appears on the scene . . . It ‘s at this point that the concept of due process of law becomes raw and emotive.

“The film conveys a powerful lesson in justice, conformity, masculine role identity, guilt and the risks of mob rule,” says James Frieden, co-founder of TeachWithMovies.com.

TeachWithMovies.com is the premier site on the Internet showing teachers how to use feature films and other video resources to enhance the classroom experience. The site offers thousands of pages of lesson plans and curriculum materials on more than 350 feature films. The price for access to all TWM curriculum materials is $11.99 per year per teacher. Discounts are available for bulk purchases.

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James Frieden
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