A LITTLE LEARNING
For some time the Business School at Harvard has been collecting motion pictures for educational use. Particularly has the emphasis at Harvard been laid upon reels that deal with science and scientific processes. Meanwhile at Yale the students of the university have followed the same general paths, but have followed them further. Yale has applied the motion picture to the field of history, and furthermore, she has produced the pictures herself. Then, in the last few months, the Yale University Press has put out a very complete "visual history" of the United States, eventually to be published in fifteen volumes.
The history works on the same general principle as the educational film It teaches history almost entirely by illustration. Thus the student merely follows the sequence of pictures through the book, reading, if he cares to, the written marginal notes, and receives a graphic and vivid impression of the appearances and happenings of earlier times. All of them based on authenticated sources, the pictures have an unquestioned value in giving a general idea of by-gone times.
But beyond a rather superficial general idea, since only the graphic scenes can be utilized, the system does not work. For instance, if a scene from the Continental Congress is shown, how is it to portray the strifes and the animosities and the high currents on feeling that crossed each other as each representative of the thirteen different states clamored for the specific rights of his own territory? How are the great arguments pro and con the freeing of the slaves to be expressed through the medium of sight? Obviously, such qualities as sight cannot reproduce must perforce be omitted from such a history. In science, where an exact process is performed before the camera, such a course is reasonable and commendable. Equally, when in the field of art, a picture must be reproduced to show to the many, the system works, since the visual is the only quality to be taken into consideration. But in the field of history the visual education method is not comprehensive. It exhibits history in flashes that print cannot rival, but it does not go below the surface and reveal what is only revealed by that more arduous process, study.