of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Learning More Than History

We have been studying the Battle of Thermopylae this semester and, among other things, I have argued that Thermopylae and other aspects of the ancient world resonate with us today; that when we study history we are not simply learning about a bunch of dead people.

Yesterday, I came across Thermopylae which is a short film I saw years ago but about which I had forgotten.  The timing was perfect.  Today we were ending the Thermopylae unit and showing the film worked well.

Because the film was called Thermopylae, I argued that it is obvious that the film maker wanted to reference the battle.  Therefore, I asked students how an understanding of a battle found in 480 BCE helps us understand the film.  I must confess that I did not see a connection

We had a reasonable discussion and one student thought the the teacher–like King Leonidas–decided to sacrifice himself for the community.  I thought that this was a good observation.

After class, one of my students who was familiar with the film said he was a bit surprised I showed it because he did not see any connection between the film and the battle.  He then told me that during the discussion he realized that it did not make any difference if the film had a relationship to the battle or not.  The issues I wanted students to consider would be addressed regardless.

The student who talked to me after class wants to be a teacher.  Today he learned more than history.


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