I grew up watching old classic movies - the sort now on TCM. So many of them had historical or bigraphical themes, that I am sure that I filled in holes in my historical knowledge just by watching them - Painless! Hubby just watched one on the Russian Revolution, and although they may not be 100% accurate, they are a pleasant way to get one's historical orientation. So I recommend it to you - especially if you have kids! They also have dramatizations of classic literature.
Do you believe that a recent college undergraduate was unaware that the original 13 colonies had all been on the East Coast? One or two movies would have cured them of that bit of ignorance!
By pamphyila from Los Angeles, CA
I love TCM also.
Would I believe an undergrad.was unaware of the original 13 colonies being on the East Coast? Certainly! Kids today seem to be passed through the educational system. Some pay others to write term papers etc. I'm a"baby boomer", IMO,what worked very well for us seems to have been completely overhauled and seems to be barely working for our kids or grand kids.
I love history. It is a real shame that our schools don't do a better job of teaching it in a more interesting way.
My husband and I both went to college all the time we were in Knoxville, TN, just to learn things we wanted to know. We took some classes together, and some separate. One that we took together was a Communications class taught by a Dr. Chastain who was a real history buff and had taught American History in addition to Communications for many years.
He told our class that if we all wanted to get the best possible education of our American History, to read the Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes starting with "The Bastard". I believe there are a total of 8 books in the series, each of them more fascinating than the previous one, and were written so well that you hardly were aware of all you were learning.
I would suggest anyone interested in the subject read those books and you'll be able to talk to anyone about our American History starting with the first men to come to our country from England. Written in "fiction-novel" format, you will enjoy every book too. They contain all the facts and are presented so well.
Students graduating from high school today are expected to be able to read on a 6th or 7th grade level. We have certainly lowered our standards of what we expect from "education".
I can't help but wonder why our system has been deliberately de-educating our young people other than the fact that people who can't read beyond a 6th or 7th grade level are so much easier to control.
I don't think I would recommend that anyone have his children watch such movies as "Birth of a Nation" or any of the films that display blackface characters or grinning happy slaves. I don't see how that could help anyone's child develop a healthy attitude and understanding of American history.
I suggest taking your child to the library and introducing him/her to good reading material. IMHO, watching movies is the lazy way out.
And yes, I taught school for twenty years.
Watching historically-themed movies can be a painless history lesson if you're picky. The Patriot (with Mel Gibson) and Glory (with Morgan Freeman and a young Denzel Washington) are both well-done and thrilling to watch. And I agree, nearly any historical film on PBS should be reasonably accurate. However, I've been a bookworm since earliest grade school. Give me a good book any day!
I also have to agree with those lamenting how our children are being "dumbed down." Before 1900, young people graduated eighth grade with a solid education. Today people graduate college not even knowing basic history or current events. The textbooks I used are "outdated", but the "new, improved" textbooks are riddled with inaccuracies and blatantly altered facts. Shameful!
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