Fahrenheit 9/11 Teaching Tool

Monday, November 01, 2004

Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is debouching in schools around the country to the dismay of many Republican officials. From The Seattle Times:

MILL CREEK — A high-school teacher's classroom showing of the controversial film "Fahrenheit 9/11" has some local Republicans fired up.

Judy Baker, a teacher at Henry M. Jackson High School, showed the anti-Bush documentary last week to students in her government class as part of a lesson in propaganda and politics. She adhered to district policy that requires permission from both the principal and a parent for students to see the R-rated film.

"We're supposed to be training kids to be informed voters. It seems appropriate to help kids critically dissect information and analyze it," Principal Terry Cheshire said.

Only one parent opted for their child not to view the movie Thursday, but the local GOP headquarters received a call from a concerned parent and an e-mail about the movie, said Darcy Cheesman, coordinator for the Snohomish County Republican Party's get-out-the-vote campaign.
The question here is: Should public school teachers be allowed to show "Fahrenheit 9/11" to their students when teaching the subject and tactics of propaganda?

Surely no one will argue with the fact that there are better ways to teach subjects than to simply show films; it's a lazy method so many public school teachers have a penchant for, as was the case when a college professor of mine would show the movie "Braveheart" to demonstrate the cruelty of ancient justice systems.

But if displayed in the appropriate context, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is indeed an example of propaganda, and if the teacher in question makes sure to point out Moore's inaccuracies (which isn't hard to do) and the elements that make it propaganda, then I would not object to the screening -- that is unless there's an undisclosed agenda in play that Republicans may correctly be suspicious of.