TeachWithMovies.com Announces Its Selection of the Ten Best Movies for Teaching World History to Secondary School Students

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After more than a decade of research, TeachWithMovies.com has selected the Ten Best World History Feature Films. Results were announced to coincide with the Academy Awards and include several past Best Picture winners.

TeachWithMovies.com Presents Nonfiction Learning Guide to Into the Wild

TeachWithMovies.com provides Lesson Plans & Learning Guides to over 350 films.

Many films can make the study of WW II unforgettable

The Ten Best Movies for Teaching World History announced by TeachWithmovies.com to coincide with the Academy Awards offers teachers safe bets when it comes to using film in class.

No modern world history course is complete without a study of Mahatma Ghandi, probably the most important political leader of the 20th century. The leaders of the U.S. Civil Movement adapted his tactics to the United States. Revolutions in the Soviet Union, the Philippines, South Africa, and many other countries employed nonviolent tactics. The instigators of the Arab Spring took inspiration from his writings, providing fresh evidence of how Gandhi’s influence is still transforming the world. The 1982 movie, “Gandhi“ is a fairly accurate biographical study that will leave indelible images of “the Mahatma” in the minds of students.

Every student will benefit from watching the 1930 black and white version of “All Quiet on the Western Front.“ They will learn to look at war from the opponent’s side and to understand history’s verdict on the First World War. They will get a glimpse of the horror of modern armed conflict. The movie will assist students in making decisions as voters on whether to support a war in the future.

And then there’s ”Dr. Strangelove, Or : How I Learned to Stop Worrying
and Love the Bomb
.” This film has several iconic images and will spark interest in the study of mutual assured destruction (MAD), a doctrine that was horrific in its threat but which kept the world from nuclear holocaust during the Cold War.

These are many popular films that most social studies teachers know about and for which TeachWithMovies.com offers curriculum materials, including Spartacus, Michael Collins, Schindler’s List, and Hotel Rwanda. Guide contains an analysis of what is accurate and what is not, helpful background, discussion questions and assignments.

The problem of course is class time. But movies can be watched outside of class. TWM’s ”Historical Fiction in Film Homework Project“ suggests that four films a year be watched outside of class and that students write essays about the film or respond to prompts on a movie worksheet. Watching up to four movies a year, at home or out of class, will allow teachers to encourage that students watch some of the letter known gems on TWM’s list of recommenced films.

“The Mission” (1986) – The Jesuit missions to South America’s Guaraní Indians were an experiment in creating a utopia and saved hundreds of thousands from being dragged into slavery by marauding bands of Spaniards and Portuguese. When the Spanish government decided to open the Guaraní settlements to the slavers and the Catholic Church went along with the new policy, the Jesuits and the Indians revolted. The story of this film is set against the backdrop of the missions and the revolt.

“Water” (2005) – The treatment of widows has been an ongoing problem in many developing countries. This film, tracing the experience of two Indian child brides, one 8-years-old, and the other about 18, whose husbands have died, will entrance students and show the mistreatment of widows and children that still exists in some parts of the world.

Many films can make the study of WW II unforgettable:

“Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970) – This movie shows Pearl Harbor from the Japanese point of view. Paired with Midway (1976), the story the U.S. Navy’s devastating revenge, will give students a new perspective on the Pacific Theater in WW II.

“Mrs. Miniver” (1942) -- President Roosevelt loved this Allied propaganda film of courage and defiance during the Battle of Britain. He had the final speech reprinted and dropped over much of occupied Europe.

“Grave of the Fireflies” (1991) -- Japanese anime ascends to artistry in telling the story of two orphans trying to survive the devastating conventional U.S. bombing campaign at the end of WW II.

“The White Rose” (1982) -- Hans and Sophie Scholl were young, reckless and determined to protest the Third Reich from within. Their reward was the guillotine.

View a short video of TWM’s 10 Best world History movies.

TeachWithMovies.com is the premier site on the Internet showing teachers how to use feature films to enhance the classroom experience. The site offers thousands of pages of lesson plans and curriculum materials on more than 350 movies. The price for access to all TWM curriculum materials is $11.99 per year per teacher. Discounts are available for bulk purchases. Also, we are interested in new movies to use in support of education. Send suggestions to support(at)TeachWithMovies(dot)com.

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James Frieden
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