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Teaching History

Discussion in 'Free Fire Zone' started by Dauntless, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Dauntless

    Dauntless Member

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    I've been told several times that I would be good at teaching history. I wouldn't want to teach in a public school and would be picky about teaching at a private school as many students are just taking up space and marking time. With that said, though, I have a unique idea about how history can be taught. Although textbooks are important, there is more to learning than just rote memorization of textbook material. I propose adding certain movies to the curriculum.

    American Revolution- Hard to find a good movie on this. I'd assign Mel Gibson's The Patriot as "Book Report" material, but I'd spend time talking about concepts from the Constitution and Bill of Rights that got the ball rolling on the Revolution.

    War of 1812-The Buccaneer. This movie covers the war better than any other movie of that era.

    Texas-John Wayne's The Alamo. Texas is an important part of the country. Talking about Texas gives a primer to the War with Mexico and makes the 1898 war easier to understand. Ignoring Texas is leaving out the reason why the US fought two wars.

    Westward Expansion-How The West was Won. Show the movie in segments and then discuss and quiz, working with the textbook in this era.

    The Civil War-there are no good movies on the entire war, but Book Reports on Gettysburg, plus discussion.

    The "Old West", Book Reports on My Darling Clementine or Gunfight at The OK Corral, (also Shane) but class watching of Chisum would be a must to understand the rancher's situation.

    War of 1898/turn of the Century. Review Texas material to understand Spanish/US collision over colonialism. Also watch Samantha-An American Girl holiday to understand and discuss child labor and help understand the industrial revolution.

    World War I -watch Flyboys and work in textbook material. Book Reports on any of the Titanic movies for extra credit.

    The Great Depression-Watch Kit Kittredge and work in textbook to help understand the era. Class projects on home businesses to make the kids think how they would get through such an era.

    World War 2: in order

    A) The Battle of Britain
    B) Sink the Bismarck
    C) Tora Tora Tora
    D) Midway
    E) The Longest Day

    Korea-The Bridges of Toko Ri

    the 1950's-Strategic Air Command and The Day The Earth Stood Still

    The 1960's-The Right Stuff, and Flight of the Intruder

    The 1970's-Rich Kids

    The 1980's-Heartbreak Ridge
     
  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Interesting that youd use the movie industty as a major tool.. Itake it you would give mucho credit to the pupil who pointed out the inacuracies in them? And what relevance does titanic have to ww1?
     
  3. Dauntless

    Dauntless Member

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    Absolutely I would give credit, that's almost the point. As far as Titanic-sank 1912, just two years before the outbreak of hostilities. The sinking caused a culture shift which ties into WWI. Technology talked about in the Titanic movies is applicable to teaching of the history of the era, plus, class division ties into the war also.
     
  4. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    There are many superlative class division tv series that have been made over the years that on this subject make titanic supferlious...Ihave my doubts on using movies to teach history to anyone..I certainly dont condone sitting a class in front of a tv..Movies are at their own credit admittance Based On Fact and in most cases not factual. God help us all if mel gibson is ever rammed down scottish pupils as factual rep of wallace...braveheart as a history lesson is unacceptable.Sounds like you should turn your attention to English Literature instead..this is not an attack on you by the way..dont take it as one. But there is no substitute for factually correct teaching by a passionate teacher who can convey a fact based knowledge. Or at least the facts currently known./Seems as I say you maybe should look to english lit. I wander wwhat Lous input would be on this one...Lou drag yer sorry bottom in here..
     
  5. Dauntless

    Dauntless Member

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    The main reason I bring this up is that a lot of history teachers are very dry and students are absolutely B*O*R*E*D to death. Using the movies, you incite discussion, ask questions, engage the students and make them think. If you stand there, monotone, Ben Stein like and just say "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He was looking for jewels....blah blah"

    All the students hear is the sound Charlie Brown's teacher makes.

    So, for instance, students are watching The Alamo. Santa Anna asks Travis to surrender. Travis fires cannon shot. Stop the movie and ask what that meant. After you get the answer, resume movie.
     
  6. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The problem with your choices is that none are particularly accurate. After all, they are primarily for entertainment. If you added commentary through out it pointing out things and inaccuracies it might help. But, having students watch a movie that portrays history wrong is not a very worthwhile endeavor.
     
  7. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    If you are going to use movies, I would recommend "12 O'Clock High". It has been used as a case study by leadership seminars for years.
     
  8. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    While using movies to an extent is fine for supplementary material and visual aids in a history class, I would not recommend using them as a primary teaching guide if one is trying to meet state education standards. Besides, I've seen a many of students be just as bored watching a movie than hearing the teacher lecture.
     
  9. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Just some pointers from a former teacher. With consideration that this might not be a public school I will point some things out to you---you need minimal equipment to show movies that a lot of schools I know of still don't have. (The necessary skills for you whether in a private or public school are the same requirements---some private schools have worse behavior). You will be made responsible maybe today salary wise for what reading skills your kids fail at for spending a great deal of time watching movies. Remember you only have those kids a portion of their time as all away games, track meets and sports will subtract them from daily presence. I also like to encourage children to read books to form a life-long habit for them as that keeps them able to inform themselves. You didn't mention any. Illness will take many away from the classroom even as much or more than the sports/activities. I will also point out your plan fails to demonstrate any minority points of view that had to be reflected in the lesson planning in public schools although it could have been included in your plans. It also lacks any specific mention of geographic skills that can be worked into the same material as you will be responsible for that portion of their performances on the standardized tests. It also fails completely to mention any understanding of government that can be gained with the same material which will be measured as well on the standardized tests although you did mention a basic, the U.S. Constitution. With all the demands on a teacher that the public schools will actually place on you if you are serious about what you do you will end up having to choose a good text (and that is not easy to find) and will be forced to kind of use it as a guide because you have to provide a way for a student to make up what he has missed when he is sick or gone to activities. The only practical second view for a student is the text and this is the only practical way for the teacher too or he or she is going to have to show his movies after school, re-tell stories in some alternate meeting to give the material to the absent students. You will have the students in most schools for a period of maybe an hour and 10 minutes a day with travel time between classes subtracted. That is a public school perspective and it may not apply to your teaching plans but it is what a lot of teachers face today. I am not against History being presented in an entertaining way, but knowing the obstacles, you had better develop a tone and character where you are the main entertainer for presentations as that is the most successful approach and you will need it for History. You will be surprised by how boring a student today finds those movies you have chosen as they do not have those tastes. To me and to you who are interested in history those are good tools. To the average student, it hasn't the instant gratification of a video game as an example. The killing scenes with Mel Gibson for example will be a big hit but there may be no memory of other more important aspects unless they have had pre-instilled interest for them. Some church groups will be offended by the graphic blood. I will point out that so much school money goes to the activities/sports that is necessary today......so in the 5 years I taught I could not rent more than 2 or 3 movies per year which would not be a cost today, as it was then, but you would still need the equipment to show them. A very large screen tv would be a minimum to show to a class of 32 which was my average number. This is not criticism, I am encouraged you have the interest and hope you pursue it. I just want people to know it is not the simple, rewarding, choice of a profession one may assume. I neglected to mention the club sponsorships, and evening requirements that are performed by mostly teachers to make all after school activities work. That is a part of most teaching jobs as well. I once calculated that in additional pay I got 5 cents an hour for those tasks, but somebody responsible has to show up to run the clock at the games. Even the most sports minded found this to be a very patience demanding task when you consider that there were unheard of numbers of games for each class level. All games are not varsity believe me. I realize a public environment may not be your interest but I know several teachers that have opted for private institutions and face many of the same obstacles they hoped to escape. For example some parents with children with extremely bad behavior simply place their poor behaving child in the private school as a solution. A private school also may require you to teach a larger number of different subjects which means more preparations per day. Even the public schools will probably give you at least 3 to prepare each day. In reality if I were forced to do this all over again I would opt out to teach college level but it has less rewards in many ways. I will also point out that what our children need to be competitive in the world market is to be more capable of self discipline, study skills at rote materials, to the point that they can take on a subject and teach it to themselves with their skills. That is how the foreigner out performs our product every time. For this there is no substitute, you have to instill a patience for rote, an interest in learning, and skills at a high enough level for them to continue on their own in their subject choice. If you think you can do that and are willing like a missionary to sacrifice pay to raise your own family you are needed in this special profession. I will point out you may also have to perform other expected tasks at public events as many communities expect you as a teacher to make everything work such as rodeo events, county fairs, state fairs, etc. You will be a public servant in today's teaching profession. There are people made for this and they are special. I hope if you have an interest that you do pursue it.
     
  10. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    As a former teacher, I am appalled at your suggestion of using movies as a prime means of communicating historical events. I taught European history and geography for nearly 35 years in a public school. I will admit to using film on occasion to bolster a point made in class. However, I hasten to add that students were no more or less attentive to films than they were to any other type of teaching. A good teacher uses a wide variety of tools to generate student interest and learning. Sometimes lecture is a requirement before you can employ other methods. Students learn in a variety of ways. Some are visual learners, some are audio learners, and some learn by reading. As a teacher, you need use as many methods as possible to reach every one. I never showed a whole movie. Some companies excerpt important scenes so that good films can be used. Two examples that I used were excerpts from Richard Harris in Cromwell in a unit on English history and Paul Scofield as Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons in a unit on the Reformation. Students need hands on stimulation to learn history. Reading primary source material, comparing various points of view and making a conclusion, and writing are all more valuable than watching a movie. Too many poor teachers use films as an out to doing the hard work necessary to prepare a lesson.

    I was passionate about my career and my subject, and I think my students knew that. They appreciated my enthusiasm much more than sitting in a darkened room listening and watching a film. On those occasions when I did show one, I even found myself being bored to tears. When I realized that, I stopped using them except for excerpts that made my point.

    My advice; either learn more about what makes a good teacher, or choose another profession.
     
    ULITHI and brndirt1 like this.
  11. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    And Lous passion still shines through...even on an internet post.
     
  12. Lady Prime

    Lady Prime Member

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    I agree...these movies are way too Hollywood to be considered as true material to teach in class. However, if they did see one of these movies and decided to write something for extra credit, that might be something to consider.
     
  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Thanks, urqh. Even eight years after retiring, I still feel a love for the profession.
     
  14. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I have to disagree, politely. I never allowed extra credit in my class. Whenever a student asked (and they were usually those with poor grades), my response was "If you aren't doing the required work, why on earth would you consider extra work? Devote that energy to your requirements."
     

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