These films are very near to my heart. I enjoyed them at school, though I just caught the tail end of the era. It seems to me that much of what these films taught was what older people now refer to as “common sense.” Nowadays, common sense seems not to be so common. Today, for example, two young men walked right into the road in front of my moving car. They didn’t even look up. In a panic, I hit the brakes and honked to alert them, and they flipped me off.
Didn’t your mother ever tell you to look both ways before crossing the street? Well even if she didn’t, these films sure would have.
Part of my vision for the future involves re-introducing this “common sense.” The basic decency and politeness that people showed to each other in the past. One change though, let’s include everyone that basic politeness okay? The 50s, the era I am referring to, certainly had its share of, shall we say, blind spots when it came to acknowledging the value of different races, creeds and cultures.
I just got this book back in my library, and here is a wonderful quote. Gregory writes about educational filmstrips and their function in the progressive school:
In a progressive school, each child’s development – physical, mental, social, and spiritual – is studied scientifically. The classroom is a kind of laboratory, and its findings are to be added to the body of knowledge about child development and culture…students are encouraged to learn through doing…the teacher, rather than being the one with all the answers, enables the students to find the answers for themselves.
[John Dewey, founder of the progressive education movement] also pointed out that the classroom isn’t a room, it’s a community, and that social activities are the context in which students will learn best…
Now imagine that this harmonious, curious, supportive microcosm of a community could be extended into adult society. We would learn to respect the individual and acknowledge our diversity. We would also learn to work together more productively, in spite and because of those differences, to build well-functioning full of active citizens all geared toward the common good.
In short, schools exist to build a better nation, the America of tomorrow…