At the Movies with Rethinking Schools

Summer is the season of Hollywood “blockbusters.” Unfortunately, most films that come out during summer are duds, so here we propose some alternatives that will both entertain and educate.

These articles are free for all friends of Rethinking Schools.

Gasland-DVDSTKR-FFracking: In the End, We’re All Downstream, by Julie Treick-O’Neill
A 9th-grade social studies teacher uses the Academy Award-nominated Gasland to help her students explore the environmental and social impact of fracking natural gas.

Coal at the Movies
Classroom DVDs on coal and mountaintop removal mining, reviewed by Bill Bigelow.

Reviews: Videos with a Conscience, by Ryan Zinn
Resources to help teachers and students delve into the economics and politics of food.

Review: “But You Guys Wanted Us Here,” by Moé Yonamine
A film tackles the U.S. occupation of Japan. Teaching activities included.

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King Corn: Teaching the Food Crisis, by Tim Swinehart
King Corn follows an acre of corn to market and a future as ethanol, food sweeteners, and animal feed. The journey anchors a curriculum on the international food crisis and how much choice we have over what we eat.

Review: Dignity and a Haircut, by Wayne Au
A review of the film American Pastime describes baseball under mass incarceration.

Who’s Crazy? Students Critique The Gods Must Be Crazy, by Chris Hawking, with Cresslyn Clay and Colin Pierce
Remember that cult classic The Gods Must Be Crazy? Posing as multicultural, the film supports the very biases that it claims to critique.

Review: ‘Our Dignity Can Defeat Anyone,’ by Julie Treick-O’Neill
A film about work and workers in Mexico, Maquilapolis inspires high school students. Finally, a film about sweatshops that views workers as more than victims.

We haven’t written an article about it yet, but another film idea is to check out the widely acclaimed and award-winning Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill, and use the teaching activities from our new book Teaching About the Wars (available as a PDF for only $7.99) to bring home the lessons from the film.

When we sent this list out to our e-newsletter list, we received a few more suggestions for films to use in the classroom, including:
What films have you used successfully in the classroom?  Please share in the comments.
If you want to write about your experience using film in your classroom or write a review for Rethinking Schools magazine, check out our writers guidelines.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

5 thoughts on “At the Movies with Rethinking Schools

  1. We just received a small grant to create a teacher training module to accompany the film PLAY AGAIN, about the consequences of a childhood removed from the natural world. We are interested in the role schools and educators play in connecting students to nature, and what benefits and challenges teachers see when integrating the outdoors in learning. If you have ideas to share or want to be involved in some way, please contact us at playagainfilm dot com.

    1. Hi, Meg. Thanks for your comment. You might have a look at the article, “‘Before Today, I Was Afraid of Trees:’ Rethinking Nature Deficit Disorder” at our website: http://www.rethinkingschools.org/restrict.asp?path=archive/26_01/26_01_larkin.shtml. Sounds like it might be a good fit. If you think you might like to use the article in your teacher training module, you can contact our outreach person, Kris Collett at kris@rethinkingschools.org. In any case, when you’re finished with the module, send a copy our way. We would love to take a look at it.

  2. No wonder our kids come out brainwashed. Every one of these films are environmentalist based. Can’t there be a balance by showing the other side? Especially the ones about fracking and coal.

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