Thomas Edison Advocated Movies in the Classroom

Thomas Edison Advocated Movies in the ClassroomThomas Edison Advocated Movies in the ClassroomThink how students learn in the classroom today, using smartboards where videos and various science and math oriented animations help them to grasp complicated information and relationships. Seems so futuristic compared to how classroom information was explained 20 years ago. We all learn so much from the blizzard of videos available through our smartboards, cell phones, computers and tablets—think YouTube and the many other sources of cyber videos out there.

In 1910-1912, Edison was expanding his motion pictures industry and making great overtures about how movies would be making great inroads in the classrooms of tomorrow…even trying to get some local schools to work with him. Thomas Edison envisioned an end to textbooks, in favor of movies that explained not only educational subjects but showed how commonplace items were made from raw resources. Today, you can watch on various cable channels how things are made and brought to our tables…..something very few teachers and students grasp even today, seemingly removed from how our whole economy works.

Edison on the cover of Scientific American 1909. His motion pictures would do for the eye what his phonograph did for the ears.

Edison on the cover of Scientific American 1909. His motion pictures would do for the eye what his phonograph did for the ears.

While Edison seems to have been right on the mark about the power of visual learning in the classroom, his ideas created quite a storm from educationalists of the day. His boat rocking was not so well received. He was way ahead of his time, with an interview that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in late 1912, entitled “Going to School at the ‘Movies’.

Thomas Edison said, “If I were a school teacher, I would put lazy pupils to studying bees and ants. They would soon learn to be diligent.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison – On the Road Again

Between 1914 and 1924, American giants explored the woods and rural byways of America, in then Model T type vehicles. Some say they started the recreational camping craze that persists today.

Their arrival may first have been witnessed as a dusty caravan, jostling along some unpaved country road; or perhaps you and your horse stumbled upon their encampment, under aromatic balsam and fir trees-dinner al fresco tantalizing your nose.

The vagabonds-Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone

The vagabonds-Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone

Thomas Edison usually navigated the entourage in the lead vehicle with his trusty compass. Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and famed environmentalist and prolific nature author John Burroughs in tow-all at a time when car travel over long distances was fraught with many hardships. Not to worry though, America’s preeminent mechanic, Henry Ford, was at the ready to keep the caravan rolling; and of course they rode on Firestone tires. Mr. Burroughs regaled the gang with his nature stories and keen observations.

It is all nicely told and interpreted at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFOOEShDEpo

Check this one out too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzuVsCfuHRg

It was these trips that got the Edison juices flowing for using native plants as a feedstock for artificial rubber-Tom’s last great research project.

Fine dining under the balsam and fir tree canopy

Fine dining under the balsam and fir tree canopy

In later years, the wives accompanied them on their eclectic sojourns, unstructured on purpose to promote relaxation, discussion and a re-connecting with nature. Ford even designed for their convenience two motorized “chuck wagons” to accompany the vagabond adventures.

The motor car decentralized the railroad, much like cell phones did to hard-wired telephone exchanges and other forms of traditional communications like “watching TV”. These men had changed the world and were exploring how it brought rural America into focus, and accessible. Perhaps it brings back memories and the excitement of the summer camps of your youth! Kind of reminds me of Willie Nelson’s iconic song … ”On the Road Again”. The vagabonds had their own kind of generational music.

Rise and shine lads!

Rise and shine lads!

Thomas Edison said, “The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison Receives an Academy Award

In 1929, Edison was given one of the first honorary Academy Awards for his work in founding the motion picture industry. This celebration marked the approximate 40-year anniversary of the original motion picture achievements of Edison, and his building of the first motion picture studio—the Black Maria.

Movie film magic started at West Orange where many early short films were originally made and commercialized. This later gave way to longer films, generally shot on location and/or in a larger better equipped studio in New York City.

A 1954 reproduction of the original Black Maria –the world’s first motion picture studio at TENHP.

A 1954 reproduction of the original Black Maria –the world’s first motion picture studio at TENHP.

The 1931 Edison Academy Award

The 1931 Edison Academy Award

That honorary academy award now hangs in Edison’s famous library/office at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park (TENHP) in West Orange, NJ. Over forty of the great artists of the time including Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Sarah Bernhardt signed their names on the award parchment.

With this new film industry, the first Hollywood and major film production companies took root in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In the early 1900s, Universal and 20th Century Fox studios were born in Fort Lee; and prior to WWI, there were 17 movie studios in town, employing many of the people there. By the mid- 1920s, the high cost of heating these studios and sunnier skies beckoned elsewhere, and the Hollywood we know today was born; but Fort Lee was America’s first film town.

Later, famed actors Mickey Rooney [Young Tom Edison, March-1940] and Spencer Tracy [Edison, the Man, May-1940] both portrayed Edison on the big screen.

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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