For many years, The Weber School has partnered with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to sponsor a film showing and find ways to incorporate the film's subject into relevant Weber coursework. This season, Weber sponsored The Invisible Line -- a documentary about a famous social science experiment at a California high school in 1967 (The Third Wave). Hebrew teacher Michal Ilai was excited to host, via Zoom, Emanuel Rotstein (the film's director), educator Ron Jones (creator of The Third Wave 1967 educational experiment), and Mark Hancock (a student of Jones').
In 1967, a California social studies teacher, Ron Jones, felt challenged by his students' lack of understanding of the Germans' broad acceptance of Nazi ideology. He began a famous five-day educational experiment, The Third Wave, that modeled fascism to explain the appeal radical and dangerous movements have on the masses.
The class conversation began with Emanuel Rotstein answering students' questions about his interest in The Third Wave experiment. Rotstein, an award-winning filmmaker and programming executive at A&E Networks, studied the 1967 experiential experiment as part of the mandatory curriculum in his native Germany. His love for history, as well as being the grandson of Holocaust survivors, drove his interest in making the documentary.
Also joining the conversation was Ron Jones, the California teacher who conducted the experiment. Ron spoke of fascism's ever-present dangers, the importance of empathy, and standing firm against hate to benefit all.
Mark Hancock, a student who participated in the experiment, is now a historian and a public speaker. He often shares his experience with The Third Wave at film festivals, theaters, and schools.
"One term that must come up is "critical thinking," which is so important these days – get the perspectives, facts, and truth as much as possible before making decisions. Be curious, ask questions, look beyond the obvious, don't accept simple answers to complex questions, and always remember the importance of empathy regarding others," Hancock shared.
Ms. Ilai's students were fascinated with the discussion and thanked the men for sharing their thoughts. Ron Jones and Mark Hancock will continue their discussions with several Weber Jewish Studies classes in the upcoming weeks.