Educational Resources

Note to Teachers

Questions that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars raise have the power to divide us along lines of ideology, political party, family background, and personal history. The Recruiter asks viewers to step beyond personal bias and to see the war through the eyes of young people. Their desire to enlist is not called into question, but is placed in the context of poverty and opportunity, family and personal responsibility, and service.

This curriculum provides teachers with tools to take students beyond their own perspectives on war, and into the lives of teenagers choosing to enlist in the United States Army for varied and complex reasons. It asks students to deconstruct the circumstances shaping the decisions of Lauren, Matt, Chris and Bobby. It also prompts discussion about the personal circumstances of the teenagers themselves, and the nature of the war in which they are participating.

This curriculum has been divided into eleven distinct lessons. Teachers might choose to screen the film in its entirety beforehand, and use selected resources and lesson plans that serve the needs and interests of their students. Alternatively, they might choose to screen the film in segments, relating each to a specific lesson plan, learning outcome, and set of suggested resources.

Teachers should note that The Recruiter contains language that might not be appropriate for more sensitive viewers.

Order The Film For Your Classroom

For more information on how to obtain a copy of the film and a complete curriculum please email our Educational Outreach Coordinator, Sheila Sundar, at info@propellerfilms.com.

You can also download the full curriculum on this page and obtain a copy of the film at your local video store or “HERE”

The filmmakers would love to hear back from you and your students. After teaching a lesson on the film please ask your students to film out this form and mail them to us at:

Propeller Films, 391 First Street, Suite #7, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Thank you!

Lesson 1: Poverty, Opportunity, and the Decision to Enlist

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In this lesson students will rely on The Recruiter, as well as outside readings, to develop an understanding of the role that poverty and the pursuit of educational and economic opportunities play in the decision of young men and women to enlist in the Army. They will discuss arguments that the pressure facing young people such as Lauren and Matt, captured in the film, point to a possible injustice in recruitment, military service, and American society overall.

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Lesson 2: Family, Support, and the Decision to Enlist

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In the previous lesson, students examined the role that poverty plays in shaping the choices of men and women who enlist in the United States Army. In this lesson, they will continue to examine the reasons behind enlistment, by looking at the promise of family, support, and mentorship that the Army offers. They will focus on the relationship that both Matt and Chris form with Sergeant Usie, and consider how young men and women might be drawn to military service, because it offers them a chance to recreate themselves with the promise of an Army family to support their personal growth.

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Lesson 3: The Power of Recruitment

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Students will analyze the messages and assess the effectiveness of advertisements used during the First and Second World Wars, as well as images from the United States Army website promoting the benefits they offer soldiers. They will consider the ways in which war, and the soldiers who enlist to fight, are portrayed in these advertisements. In addition, they will analyze the words and strategies Sergeant Usie uses to earn the attention, trust, and commitment of potential recruits. Throughout this lesson, they will assess the difference between advertising and propaganda, as well as the difference between informing and manipulating one’s audience.

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Lesson 4: Military Recruiters on High School Campuses

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In this lesson students will understand the factors that shape the debate around the presence of military recruiters on high school campuses. They may consider the economic and racial factors that have contributed to, and heightened, this debate. In addition, they will build on their analysis of wartime recruitment strategies to debate whether or not the need for more voluntary soldiers in a time of war justifies the means of obtaining them.
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Lesson 5: Bringing back the Military Draft

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Through this lesson, students will develop their own position on the question of resuming the military draft, in an effort to create an armed force representative of the demographics of all of the United States. They will analyze statistical information and arguments in favor of reinstating the draft. After synthesizing the reasons offered in support of a military draft, they will develop their own positions arguing for or against proposed legislation.
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Lesson 6: Confronting the Realities of War

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In this lesson, students will analyze and discuss the realities of war as portrayed in The Recruiter feature, “One Year Later: Matt”, and compare these realities to the myths that surround war, which initially persuaded Matt, Lauren, Chris, and Bobby to enlist. Through close examination of Matt’s story, as well as the accounts of other veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, students will explore the complexity of soldiers’ voices as they speak about the realities of war.

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Lesson 7: Coming Home

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Students will read the account of Kevin and Joyce Lucey, describing the impact of war on their son, Corporal Jeffrey Lucey. They will read about Corporal Lucey’s struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and his neglect at the hands of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Ultimately, through revisiting Matt’s story and reading about Corporal Lucey’s, they will continue to investigate the impact of war’s realities on the men and women who serve.

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Lesson 8: Patriotism and Conscientious Objection

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Students will read accounts of two veterans, one who applied for conscientious objector status following service in Iraq, and another who refused deployment to Iraq based on opposition to this particular war. Students will explore each account and discuss whether their definitions of patriotism are compatible with the definitions presented by Ehren Watada and Camilo Mejia. They will discuss the extent to which refusal to submit to orders in conflict with one’s principles, compromises or defines one’s patriotism.

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Full Curriculum

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Here is the full eight-lesson curriculum for The Recruiter. It can be taught as a Unit or educators can pick and choose from the lessons to customize something for their specific classroom needs. Teachers should feel free to contact the filmmakers so that they can speak with Propeller Films’ Educational Outreach Coordinator, Sheila Sundar, if they have questions about this curriculum or need guidance on how to use it in their classrooms. Please also watch the videos offered at the top of this page to see how other teachers have used this curriculum in their classrooms.

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Video Update: Matt Returns after 15 months in Iraq