ENCOURAGE YOUR STUDENTS TO ENGAGE DEEPLY WITH HISTORY USING THESE WWI CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS KEYED TO THE FILM MY BOY JACK
What would it be like to actually fight in the First World War? How would it feel to watch a beloved son go off to fight -- and what could you do on the home front to help support him? How much should a government lie to its citizens about the conditions and progress of the war -- do the ends justify the means?
These are just a few of the powerful questions addressed by the keenly insightful film, My Boy Jack,
produced by the BBC and first aired on Decoration Day (the equivalent of Memorial Day in the United States).
Unlike many war movies, this one is not fiction. It is the true story of Rudyard Kipling and his son, who wanted to go off to fight for king and country, and and after many struggles, finally got his wish -- much to the regret of the father who had encouraged him to go off to war at the tender young age of 17.
WHY THIS MOVIE WORKS IN CLASS
Because the main character is just 17 years old, high school students can really relate to him and put themselves in his shoes! They see him dealing with a difficult home situation (something many of our students have on their plates), applying for military service only to be rejected, pressing his case, going through basic training, serving as an officer training his own battalion, and finally, going "over the top" on the Western Front and confronting the very ugly realities of trench warfare. Students find it interesting and really pay attention -- and it doesn't hurt that John Kipling is played by the same actor many of them recognize as Harry Potter!
These questions focus on issues raised by the film and will help students personalize and internalize how total war affected individuals in families. They will provide a springboard for class discussion and debate about issues such as nationalism, propaganda, and patriotism.
Because the character of Jack is so close to the age of high school students studying the war, it's easy for students to put themselves in his shoes and really feel involved as they watch the film. These critical thinking questions expand on that angle and turn the movie into a much more powerful teaching tool.
LEARNING IS THINKING!
These 23 questions are not your usual "who did what?" kinds of problems. In fact, they aren't really designed to test students on the movie, but rather to get them thinking hard about life in 1915 Britain -- about the issues that real people had to face in that challenging era.
Each question can open up the door for discussion and debate, encouraging students to dive deep into history and put themselves in another place and time. Using these question set, students will take a position and defend it on issues such as:
• Should a disabled person have just as much right as anyone else to fight at the front, if that is what he desperately wants to do? Does it depend on the severity of the disability?
• Is 17 old enough to make such a momentous decision as signing up for military service?
• If a loved one is missing in action, it is fair to blame other family members who encouraged him to go to war?
• Is fighting at the front the only honorable way to participate in a war, or are other duties just as important and worthy of respect?
And those are just the tip of the iceberg!
HISTORY ELEMENTS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE MOVIE
Topics covered in the movie include
• British empire / imperialism
• motivations for war
• the nature of total war
• propaganda efforts
• life on the home front
• trench warfare
All very topical for World History and European History classes!
ABOUT THESE MY BOY JACK CRITICAL THINKING WORKSHEETS
You will get two different sets of questions, each with 10 or more questions. The first set is designed for teachers to use after the first 30 minutes of the film have been shown. The second set contains questions that relate to the events of the second 30 minutes.
This organization allows teachers to show a movie segment and then have a rousing debate/discussion with students before moving on to seeing more of the movie.
For teachers who would like to break the movie at other intervals, the questions are all presented in the same order that issues come up in the film. so that's possible too.
LOOKING FOR MY BOY JACK QUIZ WORKSHEETS?
If you also need objective questions about the characters and events in the movie, perfect for assessing student learning as they watch, consider this additional product:
68 Movie Questions / Movie Worksheets for My Boy Jack"
I hope you will give the film "My Boy Jack" a chance in class -- in my opinion, it really is the very best WWI movie out there, and well worth a few days of instructional time!
Movie Questions by Elise Parker.