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Monday, August 2, 2010

Teaching about various viewpoints of America

I just came across this movie called The Listening Project which is available for live stream on Netflix.  The film selects a group of Americans to travel the world and do something that all too often we forget to do, listen to others.  The movie is focused on asking foreigners in countries outside the United States how they view the U.S.  It is a bit hard to bring the perspective of "average" or every day non-Americans into the classroom (much of the written work is done by journalists or scholars with at times differing viewpoints), but this film makes it easily accessible.  I am planning to show this film to my students at the end of the first week of my American Humanities class when we talk about "What does it mean to be an American?"  More news to follow!


  1. Hi John,

    I found your blog via a recommendation on twitter and I've enjoyed your first few posts. I feel compelled to share my support for _The Listening Project_. I teach a 9th World Geog/History class. We watched this at the end of the school year. I made a simple handout with all the countries visited throughout the film, and prior to watching, asked students to put a + or - sign by each, indicating whether they expected to hear a positive or negative assessment of America. We discussed these, and it was great to hear students justifying their choices and reflecting on the history of the United States and each country, topics we'd discussed throughout the year. Then, while they watched the film, they made brief notes indicating whether the comments were positive or negative (and invariably, they found both in nearly every country).

    We had a very interesting discussion following the video, and I like the connection to your question - "What does it mean to be an American?" I'll add that next year.

    Finally, I asked students to give the film a thumbs up/down, and whether I should show it to future classes. Nearly all the students emphatically gave it a thumbs up and said all students should see it. :)

    Sorry for such a long comment. I really felt the film was interesting, effective, and memorable. I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine did.

  2. Hi Beth,
    Thanks for the comment! I am going to include your activity with mine as I start the school year off. Please feel free to share any of your other comments with me about the other posts or if you have any other films you use please let me know. I miss teaching 9th graders!