Friday, February 26, 2010


......TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS? As a NEGATIVE?? :-) Are you KIDDING me? (Mr. Z would have LOVED this, wouldn't he have?)
Check THIS OUT for the details I know you'll want to read. Boy, marry this story with that Rhode Island story about firing teachers that I posted below and maybe we're seeing some good things happening in American schools again......... Dare we get our hopes up?
naaaaa But, we can DREAM! Just THINK...An AMERICAN school teaching the evils of COMMUNISM?


FrogBurger said...

Doesn't look too bad if I look at this picture.

I learned what it means personally. I went to Berlin in 1988 and crossed East Germany on a train during the night. We were forbidden to open the curtains of the window. Well, we were kids so we did and saw the Red Army tanks along the way with huge projector hitting the train during the trip.

It made a stronger statement on me than some grafitti on a fake wall you can see over. Because when I visited the wall, it was 3-4 times my height.

Schools should show The Life of Others if they want to teach what communism means.

Ducky's here said...

Yeah, I remember a Vopo walking off with my passport at the East Berlin border. Little scare trick they liked to use.

Froggy if you'd like to get a good look at East German cinema try the DEFA films from the rather short lived East German thaw of the 60's.

"The Rabbit Is Me" -- very fine expose of the corruption of the legal system.

"Born in '45" -- Maybe the best of them. Someone was watching Godard and managed the same pop culture ennui here. It's a condition that seems to cross cultures in post war life.

"Berlin Schoenhauser Corner" -- Another good look at the 60's youth culture behind the curtain.

Then take a look at Alexander Kluge's portraits of East Germans trying to adjust to life in the West. "Yesterday Girl" and "Part-time Work of a Domestic Slave" are very important films.

We should thank the University of Massachusetts for seeing that this film movement was properly restored and archived.

Ducky's here said...

Froggy, double feature, "The Lives of Others" with Coppola's "The Conversation" what do you think?

FrogBurger said...

Thanks for the list, Ducky.

Z said...

THE LIVES OF OTHERS is one of my very favorite films and I highly recommend it, too.
Thanks for the list, Ducky.

Mr and Mrs Z were in Munich when the Berlin wall came down, it was quite an amazing time. Little Trabi's, the ugly Russian cars they drove in E Germany were suddenly all over, I mean within HOURS...and W Germans were putting flowers on the hoods and leaving food in bags in the unlocked cars which had been parked in the city. It was very touching. Extremely sweet to see the pleasure and awe in Mr. Z while we watched the proceedings there.

cube said...

A school teaching the evils of communism? One school down, the rest to go!

Anonymous said...

Z, an interesting post.

This is a worthwhile experiment. The true reality of living in a place like Communist East Germany, can't be duplicated in a school exercise. However we have to remember how relaxed and free school life has become here.

Most of these kids are used to having things pretty much the way the want them, so, for them. Even the minor restrictions they were forced to obey, were probably unthinkable and shocking to most of them.

The fact the effort was made by the school at all is progress. The students learned something valuable, and it was a worthwhile undertaking.

Hopefully, it's a harbinger of more education regarding oppressive government, and historically what communism has wrought for millions of people.

Yes Z, Mr. Z would have loved this.


Ducky's here said...

Hopefully, it's a harbinger of more education regarding oppressive government, and historically what communism has wrought for millions of people.


Yes, but apparently not instruction on the dangers of self indulgent license of high school kids today.

An incomplete lesson.

Interesting ideas in "The Lives of Others".

1. Arts and culture have redemptive value.

2. The most oppressed characters were believers. Party members. That same abuse of power is present in our government but again there will never be a complete lesson.

Faith said...

It's a great idea and probably sincerely intended, but as I read the story I kept having misgivings, which some others have touched on here. The atmosphere of fear, distrust and oppression that people lived under behind the iron curtain simply is not conveyed by rules against "being yourself" by walking on the grass and having long hair -- rules we used to obey here too, rules for decent civilized life, not oppression. If that's the whole level of the teaching, very little about Communism was conveyed but perhaps an American-style progressive leftie attitude against decent civilized was somehow conveyed instead. I could see it teaching that Christian rules are wrong for instance. Sorry to be my usual bummer self but that was the effect on me when I read it. Thanks to our own "liberated" mess of a society, not true principles of freedom.

Chuck said...

I found the idea of the paper wall cool. Kids learn by seeing and doing, not by "old" people like us telling them how bad it was.

Z I also found it very cool that you were in Berlin when the wall came down, that has to mark as one of your lifetime memories.

An almost irrelevant fact but one I enjoy is that it came down on my birthday.

Z said...

CUBE, I don't always burst into laughter, but YOU DID IT!! That's GREAT :-) (and pathetic, of course, in its truth!)

Ducky, don't make me agree with you on that film or anything else, your inference, etc.. OKAY? I can't take it!

Pris, I hope so.

Faith, I had some of your same feelings and read it again and again and decided the kids were so turned off it could only be a good exercise!!!?

Z said...

Chuck, we were in MUNICH when the wall came down but it had a huge affect on Munchners, too, especially my husband. He was absolutely ENCHANTED watching that TV news....he was almost dumbfounded and so thrilled, never having thought he'd see that day. It was a memory I'll have forever...
like the billion or so other memories of an amazingly interesting and kind and fun and smart......etc etc..husband :-)

Anonymous said...

Faith makes excellent, tough-minded points as usual, but even a relatively weak argument against Communism is better than the flat out SUPPORT it has gotten since the Sick-sties -- the dreadful decade when everything I was taught to love and cherish was vilified, and everything I was taught to loathe and despise was exalted.

The world almost LITERALLY turned upside down in the Sick-sties -- but as we know from many past discussions all of that was cleverly planned, plotted, SCHEMED and SUED into being by crafty, ruthless, manipulative intellectual aggressors.

The power of THOUGHT is greater than the power of any threat of physical violence. That's why we say, "The pen is mightier than the sword."

When people become infected with false logic and seductive blandishments appealing to their basest instincts, a poisonous passion takes over and wreaks havoc as we have seen so many times throughout history.

That's why it's so vitally important to inculcate youngsters with values and mores that emphasize virtues based on generosity, unselfishness, lovingkindness, tolerance, meekness and respect for high achievement, honest effort and above all respect for human dignity.

On the other hand indulgence in hectoring, badgering, fear-mongering, and beating a false semblance of goodness into others with self-righteous wrath is a surefire way to deliver our children -- and ourselves -- into the hands of the enemy -- Satan, The Great Deceiver.

Satan is in charge whenever and wherever tyranny and oppression are permitted to flourish.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

"Yes, but apparently not instruction on the dangers of self indulgent license of high school kids today."

Ducky and Faith, I see your points, and agree, but if one want's to drive home a lesson, it's best to stick to the lesson at hand, and not to confuse the issue.

They had to use what they had to work with, and indulged kids is what they had.

What did you want gunfire and imprisonment?


Chuck said...

Z, I obviously cannot read tonight. Munich - Berlin, still incredible.

Z said...

FT....are you in favor of this program or not?

Chuck, I'd not have 'corrected you' but I wanted to make sure you knew we didn't have the amazing luck to be in Berlin but at least were in Germany...and what we saw there. :-)

Faith said...

I hadn't thought about what I'd want to see in such an exercise, Pris, but as I ponder it now I guess something to convey the socialist values for starters -- being forced to support the state somehow or other under threat of whatever, rules that force you to submit everything you are under the state -- not rules and laws like not walking on the grass as if rules themselves were somehow wrong.

Kids can certainly get bummed out by the idea of rules that restrict their idea of personal freedom quite apart from the political philosophy involved. At some point I'd like to see an interview with the kids to see just what they DID get out of it on a philosophical level.

Otherwise, if possible, some kind of set up that creates suspiciousness of each other. That may not be possible to set up artificially since the effect depends on things that are important to you being under threat and it's hard to create a feeling of the crucial importance of anything in a game setup. But that was one of the main effects a friend of mine years ago described about living under communism before he was able to escape -- it created a deep cynicism along with distrust of everybody.

Z said...

Faith, I think that's an excellent idea, that interviewing of students to see what they DID get out of the exercise...I hope that happens, but I guess we'll never know.

Faith said...

I happened to see a documentary about Tibet on Netflix a few days ago that may relate to this somehow. I'd avoided watching it because such Hollywood leftists as Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen were involved in it. But when I did finally watch it I was glad I did. These leftists were in the position of opposing the biggest leftist regime on the planet these days, China, and they did a creditable job of presenting the situation in Tibet that has been going on since the 60s at least but as far back as the 30s.

The Chinese came in calling themselves "liberators" of the Tibetans, from the "oppressors" of their Tibetan religion, a mixture of old tribal religion with Buddhism. In the service of "liberating" them they killed thousands of them, they killed monks who made up a big part of the soceity, they destroyed thousands of monasteries that had once been repositories of the culture besides religious places. The cognitive dissonance had to be extreme. The people loved their monks and monasteries, they loved their religion, their lives revolved around it completely.

It's this sort of artificial ideology imposing itself on people, defining reality for them in the most unrealistic terms, creating a sort of insanity really, and then enforcing it with violence and death, that characterizes communism.

Forget for the moment that if the Tibetan religion were Christianity the Hollywood lefties would have cheered on the "liberators" of the society from its "oppression." At least in this case they were on the right side and made a film that managed to demonstrate the peculiar mental strait jacket that communism imposes on people quite apart from sheer physical threat.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I applaud these students for investing in a project this size and for the administration at this school for buying in. Every good lesson should be processed and this should be no exception. I suspect there is a follow-up assignment for the project. Interesting post.