History Minutes
April 11, 2004 10:49 PM   Subscribe

History comes to the life, and to television. If people will not come to history, then let history come to them. [more inside]
posted by jb (7 comments total)
Inspired by this recent Metafilter discussion about popular knowledge (or lack thereof) of history, I found these remarkable short films are now online.

Most Canadians will probably recognise this long running series. But for those elsewhere, this is an ambitious project to promote historical knowledge and awareness among the general public, at least of recent Canadian history. Of course, the Canadians will claim anything they can as their own, but we do have our own myths and legends. Like all good histories, there is some silly swashbuckling, but also heroism and pride, not to mention tears.

New minutes are also being made by students, including this excellent profile of Chief Piapot.

The project is not without controversy; unabashedly proud, it only occasionally dwells on the darker side of Canadian history. But it succeeded at least in teaching this Canadian about the exciting origins of our "responsible government".

Quicktime versions of the minutes are available at each page.
posted by jb at 10:51 PM on April 11, 2004

Just one correction - the bit about "responsible government" being a "Canadian idea" is pure nationalist myth. Though it was remarkable for a colony to be granted representational government, Britain had, of course, had a powerful representational (though elitist) parliament from the seventeenth century forward. It's a cute moment, but the historian in me cringes.
posted by jb at 11:02 PM on April 11, 2004

I guess any way to get people interested in history is nice.

[maple leaf]
posted by Gyan at 11:28 PM on April 11, 2004

Very nice. Quite a few things here I didn't know about our closest and dearest friends.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:58 PM on April 11, 2004

Does anyone know of a source for the old animated Canadian history spots? I
always loved the story of the "First
Provisional Government in Manitoba"
that ended with President Spence's historic
words "for the love of God man don't shoot! I've a wife and family!"

In the pantheon of Canadian government sponsored ads, this is for me second
only to the Hinterland Who's Who,
"the Partridge or common ruffled Grouse" spot.
posted by arse_hat at 12:22 AM on April 12, 2004

Wow that really is amazingly ambitious project. As someone with a BA in History at first I laughed at the idea of 60 second clips with staged events, some of it very silly and over-dramatic. Reminds me of Disney.

But it is a very interesting way to teach. Images can hold long lasting impressions that just perhaps even 60 seconds is enough. Isn't this what the promise of TV was in the early days?

I will try to find time to read/view these in more detail. Thanks for the link! This is IMO truly a Best of the Web.
posted by stbalbach at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2004

BTW here is a very interesting article on the role of "the image" (TV, computers) in education. It basically says kids today are dumber than 30 years ago because they spend so much time in front of computers and TVs and don't read books.
posted by stbalbach at 1:41 PM on April 12, 2004

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