"Films Beat Books," Says Edison - Using Motion Pictures In The Classroom

TEN years ago Thomas Edison taught a group of children science by using motion pictures. The results were so convincing that he expressed himself as "on fire to spread this means of education broadcast."

Seeing The Lesson In The Classroom

Courtesy Patheseope Co.

"The royal road to learning lies along the film highway," says a college professor. In New York alone, more than one hundred schools now use educational films. In every twentieth school in the United States there is a projection machine.

Children who learn by means of motion pictures visualize dots on the map as hives buzzing with life and industry. History is reconstructed on the screen. Bygone days are lived over again; Joan of Arc, George Washington, Betsy Ross, Napoleon, become real figures of romance and action.

Children learn through the eye without conscious effort. Dry-as-dust descriptions are replaced with ..unforgettable living pictures. They see the wheel of a Chinese potter shape a mass of clay into a beautiful vase; before their eyes a mushroom breaks through the ground and the beaver builds his dam.

A recent list compiled by the Society for Visual Education offers schoolfilms on a variety of subjects. Early French explorations in North America are traced by animated lines moving upon the map of Canada and the United States, and scenic pictures show the country the explorers traversed.

A subtle lesson in Americanism is taught in the film, "A Citizen and His Government," which shows how the American Government furthers education and protects life, health and property. One of the recent activities of the Government is the distribution of educational films to schools that have motion picture equipment.

In the course of an experiment recently conducted in an Illinois school, several classes were shown the life history of the Monarch butterfly on the screen. It was proven that a better understanding of the life of this butterfly was gained from a fifteen-minute film exhibition than from two weeks of textbook study that had been given to another species.

In North Carolina the Bureau of Community Service, a State organization designed to improve social and educational conditions, sends out "movie trucks," equipped with motion picture projectors and light plants, over circuits selected for their accessibility to the largest number of people.

Films stimulate interest in the collections of museums, and cultivate the taste of the people in travel, crafts, arts, archaeology and the history of races. During the past year seventy thousand children saw the moving pictures given in the auditorium of the Toledo, Ohio, museum.

Manufacturers use films to demonstrate factory and distribution methods to workers, salesmen and investors. A certain breeder of livestock had a thousand-foot reel made of his herd.

He bought a "suitcase projector," took it to the office of prospective buyers, attached the plug to a light socket, pulled down the shades, exhibited the pictures of his stock on the wall —and made six sales out of seven prospects.

Miles of film are used every summer by the Nebraska Department of Conservation and Soil Survey to report farming conditions.

A Japanese proverb says: "Once seeing is better than a hundred times telling about." We can teach almost anything with moving pictures.

Prepared for The Mentor by the Society for Visual Education.

Source: THE MENTOR, Volume 9, Number 6, July 1, 1921, Page 34

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