Mrs. Batten’s social studies movies

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Mrs. Batten puts on the movie “Three Identical Strangers” for her AP Psychology students. The students recently took the AP Psychology exam, so the movie is a way for the students to relax while still learning. (Photo courtesy of Darcy Meehan)

Mrs. Batten, a social studies teacher here at Leesville, has movies she plays for all of her classes to enhance the learning experience. Batten teaches AP US Government and Politics, AP Psychology, and Economics and Personal Finance.

In AP Government and AP Psychology, Batten has a tradition of playing the same movies every year. This year is Batten’s first time teaching Economics, so she has not yet established a movie for the class. 

In AP Government, Mrs. Batten plays the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This movie stars Jimmy Stewart as a man named Jefferson Smith who was appointed by his state’s governor to replace a deceased senator in the United States Congress. While in office, Smith becomes aware of corruption taking place in the Senate and sets out to expose the deceitful Senators.

The movie culminates with Mr. Smith performing a filibuster to call attention to the issues in the Senate. The movie accurately portrays Senate proceedings, educating students on how the Senate works.

Halle Gibson, sophomore, watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. “It put into perspective how everything would go down. In this case, how a filibuster would happen in Congress. It was nice seeing it in a real-world situation,” said Gibson. 

Batten has shown this film since her first year teaching at Leesville in 2003. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a classic. I feel like it is something that everybody should watch,” said Batten.

The film came out in 1939, but its themes of government corruption and the influence of the media on politics are still relevant today. 

“It is not something students would have seen nor would choose to watch on their own because it is older and in black and white. So I like the fact of being exposed to something they probably wouldn’t pick up themselves and being able to compare how things are so much the same even though we are decades apart,” said Batten.

In AP Psychology, Mrs. Batten plays the movies Awakenings and Three Identical Strangers, which both display topics that Batten teaches.

Awakenings stars Robin Williams as a doctor in the 1960s working with catatonic patients. It provides students with insight into how psychological disorders can be treated and is based on the true work of neurologist Oliver Sacks. 

Three Identical Strangers is a documentary about triplets who were separated at birth and found each other later in life. It relates to the nature vs. nurture debate that psychology often discusses.

Mrs. Batten shows these three movies every year, and the other Government and Psychology teachers often show them too.

“In some years we may show the same [movies] and in others, it may differentiate a little bit, but these are movies that tend to go along specifically with curriculum, so there’s a reason they’re in the media center downstairs. All of them relate to content in some way,” said Batten.

The movies Mrs. Batten plays are effective ways to learn and give students a deeper understanding of the subject.

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