Nature versus nurture is one of the most controversial topics in psychology and developmental studies. What has a bigger impact on our future: our genetic predisposition and early life, or how we are raised and affected by people throughout our lives? Jamal Wallace explores this question and more as he transfers from a low-class, underwhelming school to a prestigious private academy. “Finding Forrester” investigates the overriding Big Question of “What plays a bigger role in making people who they are: their environment or their choices?”. After unknowingly befriending William Forrester soon after acceptance into the academy, Jamal realizes how one man could change not only his future, but also his past and present.
As Jamal begins to settle into the academy, it becomes apparent to his professors that his writing and other work has significantly improved. Improvement in Jamal’s work becomes so substantial that the academy administration begin to question if his work is legitimate. The administration don’t want to admit it, but they clearly are only questioning Jamal’s honesty because he is African American and comes from a lower-tier school. This incident also reflects on Big Question #2, which questions the reasoning behind people’s actions. This message also leads into the Big Question of, “How does your past affect your future?”. Jamal’s rocky past clearly plays a huge role in his experience at the academy. He feels slightly out of place at the wealthy academy, both in the classroom and on the basketball court. Jamal does not let his past hold him back, as he exceeds standards and goes above and beyond to become an incredible writer.
As stated earlier, soon after Jamal befriends William Forrester it becomes very evident that this man has seriously changed his entire life. As Jamal’s environment and people around him changed, so did he. Forrester took on almost a fatherly role to Jamal. He was not only a writing advisor; he was a mentor, a life coach. Although Forrester could be very terse at times, without his guidance Jamal may have fallen victim to the stereotype of his rough past.