by Mara Reinstein
March 28, 2018
Growing up in a working-class family in the mean streets of New York City's Little Italy neighborhood, Martin Scorsese admits he didn't have access to books. He got his education about the world by going to the local cinema.
"I learned a lot about American ideals primarily from the movies," Scorsese recalls. "Something like The Grapes of Wrath . . . that was an exploitation of labor done in an extraordinary way."
Now the Oscar-winning director, 75, hopes to pass on the lessons to schools across America. Scorsese was on-hand on a grey afternoon in New York City on Tuesday, March 27 to help announce a new program for The Story of Movies, the first film study program created by filmmakers, film scholars and educators. The curriculum, free of charge, has been used across the U.S. by more than 100,000 teachers in every state since 2000. Explains Scorsese (on a panel with other historians and educators), "It's absolutely crucial that young people learn how to sort the difference between art and commerce and the difference between a sequence of images that are individually crafted versus images that are mass-produced and used to grab your attention. . . Our hope is that this will inspire teachers and students to go deeper and deeper in engagement with history and politics. There is no difference between verbal and visual literacy."