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Movies in 8th Grade History Class!


Tikisoo
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TikiKid came home all excited because they showed the film *"Glory"* in her history class in school. I inquired "why" and she said it illustrated the roles blacks played in the Civil War, since February was "black history month".

 

What do you think of this?

 

Some other parents think it's "lazy" of the teacher but I learn a lot about history via old movies, especially fashions & social morality of a time past. If watching *Glory* keeps their interest & puts a human face on the story, I'm all for it. I can't imagine kids sitting through Ken Burn's *Civil War*

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I see it as a potential win for TikiKid. Its true that movies will shred the details of history for the sake of story or length of the movie. But if the movie inspires them to react two ways, of understanding the environment of the period when it occurs and peaks the curiosity to learn more of their past, then I am for it.

 

I love to read about history, but the way it was taught when I was TikiKid's age I would have never have embraced and loved it now if it hadn't been for the historical period dramas I watched. I think the teacher made a wise choice, and hopefully has created an interest in the subject through story. Now I have more non-fiction than fiction on my bookshelf and on my Kindle.

 

I found a book helpful to discern facts from the fictionalized stories, and it is _History Goes to the Movies_

http://www.amazon.com/History-Goes-Movies-Viewers-Historical/dp/0385496788/ref=pd_sim_b_7

Maybe it could be a source of discussion here. There are several books that explore the subject; maybe others have read them. I am also curious to learn more.

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> {quote:title=TikiSoo wrote:

> ...}{quote}I learn a lot about history via old movies, especially fashions & social morality of a time past.

 

 

Hi Soo,

 

I learned Roman Numerals by trying to figure out the copyright dates on Three Stooges shorts when I was young. (Or, is that not quite what you meant?)

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Showing movies in school to teach kids a subject is very inappropiate, the reason is that Hollywood movies are not exactly the best material to learn from. There is too much embellishment - adding stuff that has nothing to do with actual history.

 

Yes, some teachers are a bit lazy, but this teacher could have good intentions but should stick with teaching from school approved history books. When I was in school, history was a main staple along with reading, writing, arithmatic, geography, grammer and science.

 

Teachers are failing our kids, the reason why government are setting standards in teacher/school performance. What grade are local schools given in quality of education.

 

History can dispell historical myths i.e. Paul Revere's April 1775 riding though the streets yelling The British are coming! LOL, we WERE British subjects. That's like someone running down Wall Street yelling The Americans are coming! :^0

 

A slight change of subject but I watch *sensable* documentaries on the History Channel and HI i.e. "Sherman's March", now that's a good subject for kids to watch. But I am very disappointed that these channels show material that has NOTHING to due with history like the movie "Unforgiven" or the mind polluting series "Anceint Aliens"! OMG they still have not accepted people are making crop circles for crying out loud.

 

The only time I felt films were appropiate was in Science class when my teacher showed true science related material i.e. the subject on lasers. I saw the first prototype of a LaserDisc player in *1971!* So far ahead of its time. Remembered seeing a 16mm film in class about computers and decided to check it out at a film library in 1979. LOL, it was copyrighted 1959 but computers were not evolving as fast as today!

 

As a sad footnote, schools are dropping hand writing as a subject because of computers, iphones, etc.. Our kids are getting DUMBER and DUMBER!!

 

DeliberateDumbingDown.jpg

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>History can dispell historical myths i.e. Paul Revere's April 1775 riding though the streets yelling The British are coming! LOL, we WERE British subjects. That's like someone running down Wall Street yelling The Americans are coming!

 

No, the whole point to the Revolution is that, because of physical distance from the mother country, the growing sense that this continent of North America was breeding a species of tougher, more resilient and independent men and women, and little slights like the British Crown's taxation without representation, the people here had begun to think of themselves as "Americans" well in advance of the formation of a new country called the United States of America.

 

The British were, by contrast, the British (or, more correctly, the English, who dominated the other two components of the Great Britain at the time, the Scots and Welsh), so that's exactly what the colonists (except the Tory loyalists) would have called them on the night of Revere's ride (even if Revere never completed it, leaving it to a couple of other guys called Prescott and Dawes).

 

 

 

 

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I haven't seen *Glory*, but I don't think I've seen a historical film that didn't take some serious liberties with the truth. If a historian could vet a film, and point out the inaccuracies to the class, okay. Otherwise, I'd feel more comfortable showing a fiction film, that was an accurate depiction of the times, such as *The Black Robe* is for the 17th century.

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0089937/

 

But, the film should be clearly labeled as fiction, and discussion should follow.

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Historical inaccuracies in movies doesn't bother me....I think it's balanced by introducing the human element. I could read all about the WW2 bombing of Britain while in high school, but I never "felt" the horror until I saw *Mrs Miniver.*

Does any story illustrate the frustration of the Depression like *The Grapes of Wrath?* If they like the story then they might read the book, then maybe read a true historical account. It's a LOT easier path of learning than going the opposite route.

Granted kids often see things literally, but I still think movies are a great introduction to history.

 

Teachers have a tough time of it, especially in today's "instantaneous" & "self absorbed" society. I know lots of kids fall through the cracks. If a movie can keep their attention for 2 hours and light a fire in them to learn more, I'm for it.

 

johnnywalks.gif

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Does any story illustrate the frustration of the Depression like *The Grapes of Wrath? *If they like the story then they might read the book, then maybe read a true historical account.

 

But without the pivotal last image of the book...the movie didn't include that, did it? I haven't seen it in a long time, and if it didn't.......then the book should be forced down their throats before the movie.

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No, the movie ends before that part of the book. Probably because the movie ending is more hopeful, and the book ending is the opposite.

 

 

But I've heard of this sort of thing being done before. Movies in the classroom. My ex's kid brother told me once that his world history teacher was showing *Nicholas and Alexandria* in his class to display the period of pre and revelutionary Russia. In many cases, many people were never aware of certain social or political situations until some movie takes on the subject. There are STILL people who never HEARD of the Tuskegee Airmen until a recent movie came out!

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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> But without the pivotal last image of the book...the movie didn't include that, did it?

 

Given the Production Code seventy years ago there is no way the final scene of Steinbeck's novel would have been approved even if John Ford had wanted to end the film that way.

 

If the original ending had been filmed and through some miracle approved by the Breen Office can you imagine the uproar that would ensue today if a teacher tried to show that version in a classroom?

 

I agree with Sepiatone, Ford wanted to end on much more hopeful note.

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The only time I've seen Gone with the Wind was in 8th grade American history class. The teacher fast-forwarded through some parts but it still took a few days to watch. He told us some of the other teachers disapproved of his showing it. I'll be honest, I can't say it really helped my understanding of the Civil War.

 

On the other hand, I think TikiSoo is absolutely correct that fiction can be a very effective gateway method to get kids interested in history, science, literature, etc..

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I don't agree with your comment "Hollywood films are shown in schools usually for propaganda purposes" since there is no way for you to know if this is true or not. i.e. you do NOT know why a teacher shows a film. You are only guessing why based on your own bias.

 

Showing GWTW is an interesting choice and that movie would be a good example of a teacher showing a movie for 'propaganda purposes' since the movie is NOT very factual or realistic and thus not very historical.

 

I wonder what area of the country the movie was shown in and the racial make up of the students and the teacher. GWTW could be used as propaganda in very different ways by very different type of people with very different points of view.

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>You are only guessing why based on your own bias.

 

You are only guessing that I have a "bias". But I don't.

 

There are very few films that can be shown in schools that don't have any or much of a propaganda purpose.

 

One of the few history films I can think of that would be ok in schools would be "Juarez" (1936), which is fairly accurate but without defaming all French people.

 

Gone with the Wind is not good for several obvious reasons.

 

I can explain all of this to you if you are interested.

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Even if you are correct that 'there are few films that can be shown in schools that don't have any or much of a propaganda purpose' (and I question this assumption), you still do NOT know if the reason the teacher is showing the film is for propaganda purposes.

 

The teacher may not feel or know that a movie you believe has a 'propaganda purpose', has that purpose. i.e. the teacher could be somewhat clueless and therefore is NOT showing the movie for a propaganda purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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>The teacher may not feel or know that a movie you believe has a 'propaganda purpose', has that purpose.

 

Well of course not. A teacher is going to select a film that they think should be shown to educate their class. The film will most likely conform to the teacher's "World View", and the teacher will think it is "the right thing to do and the proper film to show".

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>Well you said ',,,usually for propaganda purposes', which implies the intent of the teacher was to show films for propaganda purposes.

>

>Now it appears you are backing off that statement.

 

I was using the original definition of "propaganda", i.e. the promotion of something or some concept, that matches the World View of the teacher.

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If a teacher is going to recommend a feature film for class viewing, he should be aware of instances where the film omits or distorts important facts. It would then be his job to point that out for the class.

 

There are advantages and disadvantages to exposing a class to such viewing. Feature films are not documentaries and are not meant to be. They incorporate a dramatic story line. The clear advantage is that the students' interest can be stimulated further by a film, and the impression can last a lifetime.

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I've never shown an entire film in any of my classes, but I often show film clips to illustrate ideas and encourage discussion. If that's the teacher's goal, I'm all for it.

 

I'm actually surprised that the history teacher was able to show a film without the parents being notified first. Everyone is so offended these days by anything, that it has become necessary for school systems to:

 

a. notify parents when a film is being shown

b. explain why the film is being shown

c. get a signed statement from the parent that he/she is allowing the kid to see the film

d. offer an alternative class that day for students whose parents do not wish their kids to see the film

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>I've never shown an entire film in any of my classes, but I often show film clips to illustrate ideas and encourage discussion. If that's the teacher's goal, I'm all for it.

 

I agree. And some of those math films from the 1950s were really great!

 

 

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