Surface Level Groans

Last week I talked about a different perspective, one from the teacher’s point of view. This view is not built on malice or spite but on ensuring learning and demonstrating the importance of digging deeper than the surface level of things. Those of you who can remember the first time you saw color television will know, better than I, about how amazing and important history can be when you actually lived it in the present. My mother still talks about being the first on her block to have a color television. AMAZING! Now, of course, I have students who refuse to watch films if they aren’t in color. What a bad decision. The surface level (lack of color) is preventing these students from viewing a great number of wonderful films.

I remember asking my mother one time when I was very young what it was like when she turned into colors. For some reason I thought that the entire world was black & white prior to the invention of color because I saw old black and white films and they didn’t have any color. Was I stupid? No, I was just young. At any rate I saw the films and very much enjoyed them. The differences between an older black & white film and the most recent big budget blockbuster are obvious on the surface, but that doesn’t make the latest blockbuster “better than” an old black & white film, it just makes it in color.

Part of what I value in education is the ability to push beneath the surface of things. I want my students to be able to intelligently discuss films they don’t like. I want them to be able to articulate why the don’t like them. I want them to be able to actually convince their friends to not waste their money on the latest film with the biggest marketing budget if the film is bad. So, when my class found out they would have to write about a black & white film that they walked out on there was a collective groan. But you know what: after groaning they will grow. Groan & Grown. Which would you rather be?

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