Lesson Plan One day in 1967 a…

Lesson Plan: “One day in 1967, a Palo Alto high school student asks his history teacher how the German people could have missed the signs of the ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the Nazis. This innocent question ignites an idea, and teacher Ron Jones launches a classroom ‘simulation,’ or experiment, to illustrate how good Germans -how anyone – could fall prey to totalitarian thinking.”

It’s not a high-concept Hollywood studio release.  It’s an indie documentary.  The experiment actually took place, with pretty creepy results.  It’s a piece of recent American history with which I wasn’t familiar.  I wonder if I’m the only one?  Amusingly enough, the teacher who launched the experiment wasn’t exactly a right wing extremist.  On the contrary.  Let’s just say this docu might bring a smile to Jonah Goldberg’s [happy] face.  Anyway, Read the whole thing™.

Lesson Plan was screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival last week.  I can’t find any information on whether it’s available for home watching just yet; but a decent documentary can often find distribution pretty easily, compared to fiction movies.  It may be coming to Netflix instant before you know it…

UPDATE: If you’re near Vancouver, you may be able to catch a screening this week.  The movie’s official site is here.

MORE: Linked by Ed Driscoll at Insty’s.  Thanks!

Also, compare and contrast with actual, college-level, non-simulated instruction in the methods of labor union shocktroop tactics.  Astounding, when you think about it, the sort of conduct that can be excused in the name of pursuing certain political goals.  But then again, it’s not like it’s that unusual.  Not in the age of “punch back twice as hard”.

You can call it ‘social justice’ all you want.  When you teach a group that it can work for a cause by making use of fear, violence, and intimidation,  your eschaton is not immanentizing as much as it’s goose-stepping.

ANOTHER ONE: A reader e-mails that he actually caught a movie based on the Palo Alto incident while on a Lufthansa flight: a 2008 title out of Germany called Die Welle (The Wave).  I just looked it up on Netflix and they don’t carry it, not even on DVD.  But you can order a Region 1 DVD with English subtitles via Amazon, here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader e-mails: “Actually the German 2008 film is derived from a 1981 American film version (made for TV I think) that I saw as a kid…you can watch it (or parts) on Google Videos“.

It looks to me like Google Videos has in fact posted the film in its entirety (about 46 minutes).  IMDb actually describes it as a short, but at 46+ minutes it’s just long enough to fill up a one-hour timeslot on TV, if you include commercial breaks.  So it was probably made for TV, most likely as an “after school” special (remember those?).

The film acknowledges the Palo Alto experiment just before the end credits, so it’s definitely the real article.  It stars Bruce Davison, whom you may remember from the X-Men movie.  I never noticed him on anything before that, though it seems I watched him for years on Hunter, one of my favorite cop shows from the 80’s.  I guess I just forgot his face.  He sure hasn’t been lacking for work in the last 11 years or so…