>Monday, Monday. We were still in the throes of the month-long disruption we call No Child Left Untested. My grade level couldn’t have science because of the domino effect that a testing schedule creates. Eager to start teaching science again, I pulled a few videos off the library shelves to help the kids build a little background knowledge before starting the Human Body unit. One, National Geographic’s The Incredible Human Machine, was a little on the long side, but looked promising. National Geographic’s educational videos are good quality, filled with great photography and valuable content. This one was on the elementary library shelves, so I presumed it was age appropriate.
The video started with a full screen shot of daVinci’s The Vitruvian Man in all his proportional glory. Any narration was lost in the hysterical giggles and noisy hoots of fourth graders reacting to this, um, detailed drawing. I stepped in front of the TV and reassured them that I understood they were naturally uncomfortable, this was a very famous drawing by a famous artist and they could take a deep breath and settle down as the movie went on.
Did I say settle down? The next piece in the opening discussed the body as art and showed a painter working on a nude portrait of a woman. The woman was tastefully posed, and nothing unseemly was shown, but it was enough to re-establish the hysterics.
I should have given up then. But shoulds, as my regular readers know, are bogus. The reality? I pressed on, kept attempting to settle the kids and redirecting them toward the paper on which they were to note new facts they hadn’t known before seeing this movie. The end result: They couldn’t keep it together. The class was officially off the walls with giggle fits and roars of inappropriate laughter. There was no possible way for these kiddos to learn anything from the video, no matter how fascinating the cinematography.
Later in the day I vented a little to my coworker in the 4/5 combination classroom. “It was a National Geographic film! Those are usually excellent!” She answered with a quirky grin, “Did it start with a naked woman being painted?” “OMG, yes!” She burst out laughing. “I had the same problem with the same video some ten years ago. I remember telling (principal at the time) that it was on our library shelves so I thought it would be okay!!”
Fast forward by a day and an email and the conclusion is this: it’s an old, old video. We’re clearing our shelves of all things VHS in the spring. This one will simply bite the dust a few months early. The principal knows about it and will field any phone calls. Hopefully, all will be well.
Until I actually start teaching about the incredible body machine….