I didn’t much enjoy 12 Years a Slave, if only because it felt more like something you should watch than something you’d ever want to. Now Steve McQueen’s multi-Oscar winner seems to be fulfilling that destiny by becoming high school curriculum. From Yahoo:
“The fact that it happened in this country…160 years ago. I know who [Holocaust victim] Anne Frank is, but I don’t know who Solomon Northup is: Why?” asked 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen during a Q&A session at L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance last year.
I enjoy the subtle humor of the writer reminding you who Anne Frank is while McQueen uses her as an example of someone everyone knows.
That question led him on a quest to get [12 Years A Slave] into high-school classrooms around the country. That dream is soon to become a reality, with the help of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and a partnership that brings together New Regency, Fox Searchlight, and Penguin Books. Television personality Montel Williams is helping fund the project.
Educator copies of 12 Years a Slave (both the film, and the 1853 memoir on which it is based) will soon be available to public high schools in the U.S. These toolkits include a DVD of the film (edited for teen audiences, with a disclaimer and parental-consent forms); a Penguin paperback copy of the book; an accompanying study guide; and a letter from McQueen.
Okay, you had me until the “letter from McQueen part.” How is that relevant? “And today, class, we’ll be studying the Gettysburg Address, so if you’ll all open your books to the autographed selfie of Doris Kearns-Godwin…”
“This riveting story of injustice and brutality is a potent teaching and learning opportunity,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “Telling the story of the evils of slavery to greater numbers of U.S. public high school students will help to ensure that this tragic chapter in our nation’s history is not forgotten.” [Yahoo]
I certainly can’t argue with that. Though it is one more reason I’m glad I’m not still in high school. That and all the inopportune boners. Ha, who am I kidding, I still get those. In fact I have one right now! Must’ve been all that Anne Frank talk.