Bruce Kauffman 7:30 a.m., March 11
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History 101; via Hollywood!!!
My daughter is in high-school, and I recently spent sometime with her on her American History homework. And I got to thinking; why don’t they just teach these kids History via movies.
Yeah, I know, movies can not compare to books. But I have decided that with the advent of IPODS, I Phones, and what ever toy is next to come, the reading of books is going to fade away with the 8-track tapes and VHS tapes. With a society that is more and more aimed at a generation of ADD people, movies are the way to go for subjects like history; at least that’s my opinion.
I know what you’re thinking; some movies have obvious ‘political’ leanings, especially in the past thirty years or so. But so what? I have spoken with most of my daughter’s teachers throughout her years in school, and read the history books over the years as well, and they have obvious political leanings as well. You know what I mean. One of my daughter’s last history books went out of its way to ‘revision’ WW2 Japan not as the ‘bad guys’, but just another culture that had legitimate claims. But (cue the music) I digress.
I could see the future History classes watching such movies, or TV shows, like Roots, Tora-Tora-Tora, Glory, or even popcorn movies like Forest Gump/Benjamin Button and discuss the different points of history those movies gloss over. I could see them watching Judgment a Nuremberg, or how about Milk? I think the students, in his age of TV and Movies, will remember a movie far longer they will a chapter about the struggle for Civil Rights or Gay Rights issues.
I could see the movie JFK shown to high school kids, and the debate whether or not our own government was behind it. There are tons of Vietnam movies. How about a double-bill of the Green Berets and Platoon or movies like Reds and Citizen Kane and All the President’s Men?
I am sure there are even better movies out there, in a historical context they could watch that I haven’t even mentioned. I know the argument will be that the kids may not be able to sit through a two-hour movie. Well, I know for a fact, they can hardly read a three-hundred page book over the course of six months.
What are some good movies about history, or famous historic people, that you think would make good viewing in a history class formed around visual education and not reading?