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The Road Home

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Percy Ortiz
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The Road Home

 A good film to show students when teaching the unit on China in 7th grade World History is Zhang YiMou's The Road Home. Most of the film takes place a few years after the Communist government has already established firm control of the country. A teacher is sent to the country side to work at a small country side school. His task is to educate all the children in the area and of all ages, but he must also help build the school. Though it seems that the old ways and traditions by this time have dissapeared the people in the village still hold fast to some customs. One example of these lingering traditions is when the folks put a red cloth on one of the ceiling rafters, which undoubtedly has been made by the character that is enfatuated by the new teacher. 

 After students have been introduced to Chinese customs and traditions, like Confucianism, its good to show this film because it combines felial peity with respect of elders. Felial peity because the son of the now dead teacher, returns to bury his father, but also he is given the task of having his father carried to his grave, an aspect of country side culture that is somewhat alive in the film. Though the son sees it as a tough challange it turns out that many people in the village and the surrounding area come to the help and carry him to his grave "old school" style.

 This gives students an opportunity to see Chinese traditions in action, aside from what they read in their textbooks or any primary source material that teachers might give them. It lets students learn more about China's geograpy, but also contextualize filial piety and to better understand how Confucianism and its traditions contine to exist even till today.