Seinfeld teaches history

Jerry Seinfeld teaches history students about the “arsenio of democracy” in this sketch.

On Kitchen Table Math, RedKudu comments on the challenges of introducing Elie Weisel’s Night to 10th graders who “think a ghetto is somewhere where only black people can live, concentration camps were places where Jews went by choice to escape Hitler, and that ‘anti-semitism’ is a cure for a disease.”

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  1. Homeschooling Granny says:

    Seinfeld does NOT teach history in this video. He asks questions, ie tests, students and continues questioning long after it is clear that they don’t know the answers and don’t know why they should. So why doesn’t the teacher teach?
    Want kids interested in WW2? Show a video, maybe the Story of Ann Frank, and ask how the world got into such a terrible state. Give them some readings that contain some answers.
    Seinfeld as teacher overlooked a natural: start teaching WW2 using Raiders of the Lost Ark. What’s true in it? What isn’t? Why would movie makers want to use WW2 as a backdrop to their entertainment rather than making up something?
    History is loaded with things that kids are interested in. Strew their lives with it.

  2. Granny,

    The issue isn’t really interest. Students are constantly interested in history in my experience because, as you mention, there are many ways to catch that interest. (Though I’m not sure the answer to initiating engagement should always be a movie.) What is of concern (especially in my example), is that by the 10th grade their perception and knowledge of the events are still so misinformed.

  3. Homeschooling Granny says:

    Redkudu, I mention movies because that is how I got interested in history. It started with Jean Simmons starring as Young Bess so I started reading historical novels about the Tudors. Then I wondered what was true and found some accessible histories (jr high level). Went on to read Shakespeare. Saw Errol Flynn as a swashbuckler and started reading about naval exploration, the establishment of the British empire. Saw Kim and read Kipling and became enamored of the history of India.

    Some of the games I see kids play appear to be inspired by history or literature. Show the kids the connections but do not beat them over the head with. Don’t take all the joy out of it.

    Of course we need more history, science, literature, in the early years. These are great things to explore with little kids while we wait for them to mature enough to learn to read. The current emphasis on reading seems to have obliterated the fact that reading is not the only way we learn.

  4. Redkudu…a bit of context, please. Who are the students?..are they kids from poor families who have been attending completely failed schools, or kids from upper-middle-class families who have been in supposedly-excellent schools?