Thursday, November 17, 2005

Objectionable material in the classroom

Ms. Cornelius has an interesting article regarding objectionable material in the classroom.

Ed Youngblood, a 37-year teaching veteran, said he was forced to quit or be fired last week after showing an R-rated movie in his British literature class.... He resigned last Wednesday after complaints over his screening of the 1998 movie "Elizabeth" prompted an investigation....

Youngblood did not follow procedure by using unapproved materials in a class without first gaining permission from the school. Two weeks ago he showed the movie, which carries an R-rating for violence and sexuality, to a class of seniors.... Monday, Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that Youngblood chose to resign when told that an investigation had begun. Youngblood says he was given five minutes to choose between resignation and dismissal.

He said he was told those were his options because a precedent had been set at the school. In 2002, two special education teachers were forced to resign for showing the comedy "History of the World Part I" in class.

... Support is gaining at the school for Youngblood, who retired at the end of the 2004-2005 school year and taught part-time this year.

History of the World? Someone really has no clue concept of what is and is not acceptable in the classroom. I'm a huge fan of Mel Brooks, but History of the World is super wrong for the classroom for oh so many reasons. As for Elizabeth, the movie has nudity in it, a complete no-no for the classroom, regardless of age. The question is then becomes the issue about the teacher resignation, which is (like Ms. Ms. Cornelius stated) sounds kind of fishy. History of the World is pretty blatant. Elizabeth's nudity is brief, and can be justified depending on the subject matter. I used a clip from the movie when the Queen was crowned, but that was only about 90 seconds.

Over at Ms. Cornelius' website (A Shrewdness of Apes) she gives the explanation that showing videos is not something that should be done in the classroom. Clarify that, showing whole movies should not be done in the classroom. In most instances I agree. However, I'm not about to remove the medium from my teaching practice. My college prep class has seen no movies this semester, but will watch Startup.Com, and Roger and Me during Economics. Those will be shown during the STAR testing, when Seniors don't participate and have massive 2 to 21/2 hour classes. Both these showings are massive hits with the students because they are relatively short, and both keep the interest. Plus, they are real, which is always more interesting.

I do think that a class based on simply videos is one being taught by a teacher who has given up. Films are full of drama and garbage that really put kids to sleep, unless they have a whole lot of garbage action that is meaningless. They have their place, but the place is only when you want to seriously impact some meaning on the kid. When I taught World History, I showed plenty of clips to introduce certain aspects of history, but the only movie that has the right impact is Schindler's List, which should be view by every student on the planet. Hell, every student should go to Auschwitz once in their life to experience the horrid side of the human soul.
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