As a future history educator, I plan to work within a public history setting such as a museum, archives, or a similar institution. I believe that film and the use of film will be a necessary addition to teaching history and historical thinking. I believe that various films have become increasingly historically accurate depending on a certain topic. Two of my favorite historical films are Into The Storm: Churchill at War and Lincoln from 2012. Both of those films can be used to describe different historical figures and how their actions led them through war and conflict. A third film that pertains to WWI, the Great War is 1917 that was released in 2019. This film chronicles two British soldiers cross no man’s land to deliver a message before a coming assault. I believe the film was a historically accurate drama but not as historically accurate as a documentary. It was based on the experiences of director Sam Mendez’s grandfather who fought in the Great War. I believe historical dramas have to take some creative liberties to craft a thrilling story but overall I believe the historical drama coincided with his grandfathers’ accounts. This raises the question of what events to portray accurately and what events to modify to create a compelling story for an audience who normally does not watch historical films?
I would use 1917, Lincoln, and Into The Storm as models for a potential future class, I would hope to teach. They are all perfect examples of how historical events unfolded and will allow students to cultivate deeper historical inquiry by asking questions such as how are the events portrayed different or similar to how the events occurred? Historical films should be used to compare historical figures, events, and ideas with how they actually occurred in real life to judge fact from fiction and begin to think critically, and ask historical questions.
Scholarly digital storytelling through films and other media allows students and teachers to collaborate with each other to reach new avenues of inquiry and exploration while they brainstorm and answer new questions. Scholarly digital storytelling will be useful in a teaching context through collaboration and inquiry. It will allow me to create a story of an event such as the Reconstruction Era or the end of WWI through monuments and historical memory. Scholarly digital storytelling will be useful to teach students how to critically evaluate primary sources and to identify the deeper meanings behind monuments, memorials, and historical artifacts in the case of WWI memorials. Students will develop various skills such as collaboration, teamwork, asking questions, and empathy to critically judge and analyze the past to arrive at similar and contrasting conclusions. I had previously written that teaching history and historical thinking is a collaborative process. Scholarly digital storytelling and historical thinking allow students to share ideas, identify different interpretations of truth, and cultivate a deeper respect for the past and how past decisions have shaped our shared future.