Sorry. It isn’t my quote but, seriously, can anyone do better than that for the mandate of the 21st-century social studies teacher? Put it on a mug.
Highly recommended: Emily Nussbaum’s profile of David Simon, creator of fine teevee products like The Wire, Generation Kill, and now Treme, his show about New Orlean’s jazz musicians three months after Hurricane Katrina which debuted on Sunday:
“F–k the exposition,” he says gleefully as we go back into the bar. “Just be. The exposition can come later.” He describes a theory of television narrative. “If I can make you curious enough, there’s this thing called Google. If you’re curious about the New Orleans Indians, or ‘second-line’ musicians—you can look it up.” The Internet, he suggests, can provide its own creative freedom, releasing
teacherswriters from having to overexplain, allowing history to light the characters from within.
Treme‘s pilot, true to Simon’s challenging aesthetic, dumps the viewer into an unfamiliar-but-compelling environment full of unfamiliar-but-compelling people and trusts that, because the whole thing is so damn compelling, you’ll be back the next week to learn more.
Simon outsources the teacher’s usual role as classroom expositor to the Internet while claiming for himself the role as classroom storyteller, turning the unknown into something challenging, enticing, and compelling.
Tell me that division of labor isn’t ideal. Tell me you couldn’t dedicate a career to that mission statement. Tell me you couldn’t do it for social studies or science or even math.
BTW. Also highly recommended: a memo (allegedly) from David Mamet (another first-rate storyteller) to his writing staff.