This assignment explores the learning theories of Mezirow and Bandura through the character
analysis of Malcolm X, portrayed by actor Denzel Washington from the film “Malcolm X”. The
focus is to examine the theoretical perspective of adult learning theories transformative learning
and that of social learning and how they impact character learning and development.
Applying Adult Learning Theory through A character Analysis
The film “Malcolm X,” produced by Worth, written and directed by Lee (1992) portrays the life of civil right’s leader Malcolm X as he makes his transformational journey from street hustling, jail, and imprisonment to later emerging as a leader for social change. While in prison, X becomes heavily involved in the Islamic movement and later meets Elijah Mohammed who is instrumental in his rapid climb to become Islam’s national spokesperson. His journey comes full-circle when after some oppositions, he disassociate himself from the Nation of Islam and embarks upon a pilgrimage to Mecca. While in Mecca X experiences another transformation that resonates throughout his life until his death in 1965 (Malcolm, 1992). By means of the events in this film, I will analyze the character Malcolm X in view of Mezirow’s transformational learning theory, and that of Bandura’s social learning theory to illustrate how theoretical perspectives can be used to explain character learning and development.
Mezirow, who is the developer of the transformative learning theory, asserted that the innate nature of humans is to necessitate comprehension and significance of the experiences encountered in life. Mezirow further contended that the transformative learning theory affords the learner the possibility to understand and learn from prior experiences (1997). Mezirow’s contention is clearly exemplified through the development of the character Malcolm X portrayed by actor Denzel Washington, in the film Malcolm X. For example, experiences that would later serve as the foundation for transformative learning begins to occur for Little, X’s name at birth (Malcolm, 1992) when he begins his journey as a child. After having lost his father to a tragic death, forcefully separated from his mother and siblings, and having witnessed various injustices enacted against African-Americans, he fostered a deep hatred for European Americans (1992). Having been reared by foster parents who offered limited guidance, X enters into a life of perpetual crime becoming a master mind of the streets. (Malcolm, 1992). Using his knowledge to further his life of crime, he ultimately becomes a bi-product of his environment (Worth & Lee, 1992). Consequently, his life style landed him in prison. These series of events put X in a position for transformative learning to occur; however, before he entered into the transformative learning developmental stage, he underwent another phase in his learning experience referred to by Bandura (1986) as social learning.