AP US History students traveled to the American Film Institute’s Silver Spring theater on Friday to watch the film Matewan and dissect its components. An exploration into labor strikes in the early 20th century, the film is one of a series of various historical films that the students are watching and reviewing as part of a final project.
“I think [students] learn differently when they’re outside of the classroom environment. Field trips are designed to not necessarily teach something new, but to be an enforcement and an enrichment activity on what [students] already know from class… The teachers also allow students to communicate outside the classroom in a different way,” AP US History teacher Patricia Simmons said.
Students so far have watched Goodnight and Good Luck, the story of the real controversy that occurred at CBS TV studios during the McCarthy era, and Thirteen Days, a riveting summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, starring Kevin Costner. Students will next watch the film The Great Debaters, based on the historically black Wiley College and its debate team, which became wildly successful in the 1930s, challenging racial barriers in their sport and beyond every step of the way.
The project will culminate in a final paper summarizing three to four of the six films, with the general theme being the historical accuracy and general message that the given group of films represent.