Alaric Sibert’s History Through Film class strives to do just what its name entails: show students the authenticity of film as a historical source in United States history.
In this two semester class, seniors will cover everything spanning from the Revolutionary Era to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Some films will be rated PG-13, and will thus require parent permission before viewing.
“We will be covering many sensitive and controversial topics,” Sibert said. “Each student is expected to exhibit a sense of professionalism and maturity when dealing with these topics.”
Though a cinematically based course, the curriculum will include various outside readings, lectures, and class discussions. In his syllabus, Sibert writes that students must be self-motivated learners and able to offer thoughtful critiques on films and readings.
“This course treats films as texts deserving the same skills of critical thinking and analysis as any other sources used within a history course,” Sibert explained. “The class is designed to reveal that some films are valid historical sources, offering a glimpse into the social, political, and cultural moment in which it was created.”
Ashlyn Vasey, a senior taking this course, signed up for Sibert’s class after hearing about it from her counselor. Intrigued by the prospect of learning history through a less traditional medium, Vasey expected this topic to be fascinating. Now, she can’t recommend it enough.
“I really love the class so far,” Vasey said. “It’s a good break in between some of my more rigorous classes where I just get to watch movies and learn about historical events in an entertaining way.”
This class has helped Vasey feel more connected to the history of the United States. With primarily reading-based history courses, she explained that it can be easy to feel disconnected from important events and people. Seeing real, living actors on screen has immersed Vasey in the time periods she studies.
In regards to workload, Vasey said the class is not “too bad;” however, she does note that it is important to pay close attention to the films. This shouldn’t be a problem though, as Vasey explained that the content is more engaging than what you would find in a regular textbook.
The senior also mentioned that the class is made much better by Sibert.
“Coach Sibert is a very involved and entertaining teacher, and he always tries his best to make the class fun,” Vasey explained. “Watching movies in class may seem a bit individualistic, especially now that the majority of us are online, but Coach Sibert always encourages discussions and asks questions to get our opinions on the subject matter.”
Both Vasey and Sibert hope that more students sign up for this class next year.
“I’d definitely tell any juniors who are interested in history or movies to register for history through film,” Vasey said.