What would be interesting to a high school class?
October 28, 2008 4:46 AM   Subscribe

My wife, a high school teacher, has an extra period with her students tomorrow. She wants to show them something (documentary, TV episode) interesting and have a discussion afterward. Suggestions?

So far, I thought of these:
  • Taxi to the Dark Side
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Man on Wire
  • Standard Operating Procedure
  • Something from Frontline, if I can figure out how to download an episode for her.
  • An episode from The Wire or Generation Kill
posted by FeldBum to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What subject does she teach?
posted by typewriter at 4:55 AM on October 28, 2008

She teaches English Literature in an English-speaking school in Israel, and he students are Juniors and Seniors (16-18 yrs old). They're not all Americans, so she's hesitant to focus solely on the upcoming election. Aside from literature, she also gives a discussion/critical thinking class once a week, where she and her students have discussed sex ed, civil rights in Israel, religion and other topics.
posted by FeldBum at 4:58 AM on October 28, 2008

The Corporation

Of course, anything much beyond a Disney film is probably going to bring howls of protest from outraged parents for exposing their kids to, well, whatever the parents don't like. My daughter is always bringing home permission slips to allow her to watch whatever film a teacher wants to use.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 AM on October 28, 2008

If you don't want the election but want something political, this is a wonderful film: Why We Fight
posted by miasma at 5:06 AM on October 28, 2008

The Fog of War.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:12 AM on October 28, 2008


BBC, 1984
posted by dmt at 5:44 AM on October 28, 2008

Man On Wire is so great.

I also like Dave Chappelle's Block Party...I think it's an amazing movie.
posted by sully75 at 5:51 AM on October 28, 2008

Thanks everyone - suggestions have been emailed to the wife. I'll let you know her pick.
posted by FeldBum at 5:56 AM on October 28, 2008

Anything from the TED conference.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:36 AM on October 28, 2008

If you are able to find it "The Boys from Baghdad High" -
Four friends and classmates are coming of age in Baghdad. One is Kurdish, one Christian, one Shia and one from a mixed Sunni/Shia background. This programme was filmed by the students themselves during the 2006/07 academic year, offering a unique insight into their everyday lives. Like all teenagers, they are interested in rap music and texting their girlfriends, but they face an uncertain future.
posted by tman99 at 6:39 AM on October 28, 2008

The Thin Blue Line
posted by designbot at 6:42 AM on October 28, 2008

Side note: Man on Wire isn't on DVD yet. (I'm waiting anxiously for it, but it looks like December 9th is the release date.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:42 AM on October 28, 2008

Another great documentary is "Country Boys" - About the lives of two high school boys growing up in a rural Kentucky town. The problems they face are not unique to a rural enviroment. The show is available for viewing on the Frontline web site.
posted by tman99 at 6:49 AM on October 28, 2008

This TED talk on statistics, poverty, and global development.
posted by The White Hat at 6:55 AM on October 28, 2008

Wow, I don't mean to be too political here, but why are you suggesting only left-wing documentaries?

How about something that would be challenging to people from all perspectives... like one of the PBS "Ethics in America" Fred Friendly seminars?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:00 AM on October 28, 2008

The frontline episode on advertising and marketing. Considering how many marketing messages are aimed at these kids you'll be doing them a favor. I also imagine they have some form of election fatigue and probably dont want to see yet another political issue (terrorism, global warming, war, etc).
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:01 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Sundance Channel's Iconoclasts episode featuring Dave Chappel and Maya Angelou is great for this age group. The discussions they get into are exactly the kind of discussions your wife is going to want to spark with her kids. It's less than one hour long, which in our house really helps, because we all have limited attention spans. You may not be able to find it on DVD by tomorrow, but I highly recommend she record it the next time it comes on the Sundance Channel.
posted by toastedbeagle at 7:12 AM on October 28, 2008

Yeah, avoid politics altogether. I'm sure they are tired of hearing their parents go on about it as well. I will agree that there are plenty of good TED talks online, and they are of a good length for a school period with a discussion following.
posted by genefinder at 7:13 AM on October 28, 2008

How about something that will open their eyes and minds at the same time as their hearts?

A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The World

A Major Documentary on Current Environmental Threats and How Jewish Teachings Can Be Applied in Responding to These Threats.

Produced by Emmy-Award-winning producer, director, writer, and cinematographer Lionel Friedberg, A SACRED DUTY will take its place alongside Al Gore's AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and Leonardo di Caprio's THE ELEVENTH HOUR as another powerful expose of the dangers of global warming. However, it goes beyond the latter two films, by showing how religious responses can make a major difference and why a shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of efforts to reduce global climate change and other environmental threats.

Can be viewed HERE
posted by watercarrier at 7:34 AM on October 28, 2008

Wow, I don't mean to be too political here, but why are you suggesting only left-wing documentaries?

Just because the documentaries are left-wing, it doesn't mean the post-show discussion would be.

If critical thinking is part of the point, it might be fun to show them something borderline "fringe-y" or "weird", just to spark a really lively discussion. Say, something on cryptozoology, but one that goes a little "out there," with segments on whether Bigfoot exists. Because, on the one hand, a lot of the alternative scientists' theories do sound like they're coming from folk receiving transmissions from Neptune; but on the other hand, with cryptozoology, at least, there have been a number of instances where science has been proven wrong about whether an animal existed or not (the Okapi, the Coelocanth, etc.), so maybe...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


About Crawford, Texas, it's available in full on Hulu. It's only about an hour long and raises some interesting issues about our current political climate.
posted by mattbucher at 8:45 AM on October 28, 2008

The Story of Stuff is only 20 minutes and would only be met with protest from the CEO of Monsanto or people who shoot polar bears from helicopters.
posted by billtron at 9:06 AM on October 28, 2008

first episode of Connections by James Burke

i'm probably sounding like a broken record by now, but this is an important lesson for everyone, everywhere.
posted by klanawa at 9:14 AM on October 28, 2008

Twelve Angry Men is a classic movie. It might be a little long to watch AND discuss in two class periods...
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:14 AM on October 28, 2008

The Merchants of Cool.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:16 AM on October 28, 2008

I would add my vote for one of the Ted Talks. They always grab my interest, the speakers (masters of their fields) are amazing and the potential topics are incredibly wide-ranging.
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 9:25 AM on October 28, 2008

Critical Thinking - Multicultural - Field Tested with actual H.S. students (they like it, and actually learn from it):

Secrets of the Psychics, from magician/skeptic The Amazing Randi.
posted by coffeefilter at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2008

Man on Wire, definitely, if only to show them that crazy dreams can come true if dreamers try hard enough.
posted by Kattullus at 6:31 PM on October 28, 2008

Invisible Children

Story filmed by 3 Americans who wanted adventure in Africa and found child soldiers in Uganda formed by a rebel group.
posted by MyDocuments at 12:45 PM on October 29, 2008

Sense sometimes students imagine school, and their bodies (agnst), as prisons during high school. Perhaps Errol Morris's "The Thin Blue Line," would be appropriate.
posted by codybaldwin at 12:51 AM on January 2, 2009

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