By Ashley Hazan
The United States has both prospered and suffered throughout history. Its dark past has contributed to the great successes of present day. American History Through Film, a new elective added to this year’s 2017 Oyster Bay Course Selection, highlights all of these attributes through film presentation. There are a total of 10-13 movies that students review throughout the semester; each film is analyzed in chronological order of the American history timeline.
This course is great for a student who wishes to know more about American history in a modern learning style rather than a traditional classroom setting. Now, some students may be hesitant to add more to their already busy schedules, but from a personal perspective, this course is a relaxing, insightful and interesting class to take.
American History Through Film is offered first and fifth period of the first semester only. Mr. A, the charismatic seventh grade Social Studies teacher, has taken on the responsibility of teaching the class. He has selected films such as The Patriot, directed by Mel Gibson, 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, and Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The films consist of a variety of genres; some are tearjerkers and others are more light-hearted.
“The ability to look at a vast number of films and observe the reality and hardships of history has to be my favorite part of this course. For example, watching Schindler’s List was an eye-opening experience that changed my perception on specific historical events,” Mr. A explains.
The coursework Mr. A assigns is reasonable in comparison to other electives. It is required that students write five, one-page film reviews on the movies of their choice. Two of these reviews must be submitted by the end of the first quarter, but Mr. A allows the reviews to be open ended and opinion based.
Another phenomenal part of this course is its time slot. I know, personally, my brain is not fully awake by the time I get to school. Because American History Through Film is taught first period, it is a great way to ease into the school day. Just watch a movie!
My experience with this class so far has been nothing short of entertaining. It is a great way to stimulate my brain first thing in the morning, and it’s the most relaxing, yet entertaining, class I chose to take. The film reviews can be finished by the middle of the first quarter, so the only requirement is to be present and an active participant in the class.
Mr. A is extremely passionate about history, as all high school students know, and that does not change just because the students “see” what they are learning instead of hearing a teacher lecture. Mr. A makes sure to pick movies that are more challenging to watch but truly depict the reality of America.
Overall, American History Through Film surprisingly turned out to be my favorite class; the course has proven to be extremely interesting. Mr. A has done his best to ensure each student does not feel pressured to do too much work, as the course is an elective, but he has also done his best to get students to explore America’s past through a unique medium.