Manhattan College To Host Film Screening of The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave

The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave will preview at the College on Jan. 30, and the documentary is based on an experiment a high school history teacher conducted in 1967 on fascism.

Manhattan College will present a film screening of The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave on Monday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Smith Auditorium. Winner of the 2011 Kansas International Film Festival and the 2011 Chicago United Film Festival Jury Award for best documentary, the film is based on an experiment Ron Jones, a high school history teacher, conducted in 1967 on fascism with his class of sophomores.

Jones, a teacher in Palo Alto, Calif., launched a one-week experiment after an innocent student asked the question, “how could the German people have missed the signs of the ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the Nazis?” This question sparked Jones to test how decent Germans or anyone could become victims to totalitarian thinking, and created a movement called the Third Wave. Jones reorganized his classroom that week into a simulation of a prototypical fascist youth group. He enforced physical discipline and uniformity in the students’ posture and speech per his first-day dictum, “Strength Through Discipline.” He meant it to end there, but students were eager for more. Within one week, 30 students grew to 200 as the Third Wave took on a life of its own, and the students unwittingly re-enacted the roots of the Third Reich.

Created and co-produced by Philip Carr Neel, a former student of Jones, The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave features interviews with Jones and students who also participated in the experiment. The documentary serves as a teaching tool to initiate conversation about uncomfortable topics of history, psychology, group behavior, gangs, bullying, intolerance and hate. The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave documentary also coincides with Manhattan College’s own mission of accepting people of all faiths, cultures and traditions, and instilling a commitment of social action against intolerance in the entire College community.

Manhattan College’s school of arts along with the government, history, psychology, religious studies and sociology departments and the College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center are sponsoring the event. The film screening will be followed by a discussion with Neel and the film’s director, David Jeffrey, and a reception.

For more information on the film screening, please contact Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., professor of government and director of the international studies program at Manhattan College, by phone at (718) 862-7248, and visit http://www.lessonplanmovie.com/ to learn more about the documentary.