If you type “Hitler fails IB math” you come to one of the most clever parodies of both the IB student and the movie Downfall. In it, Hitler receives his IB results, clears the room of all but his closest associates and ruminates over his poor performance. This is a very funny video if you are a teacher in an IB school, and it isn’t a bad idea to show it to students when they are taking themselves a little too serious.
However, I also began to wonder what made it so powerful. What about Hitler’s final days in the bunker resonates with IB students so strongly that they rewrote the dialog?
I don’t think IB students relate to Hitler on a personal level, but there is something iconic about Hitler’s pontification – something universal. Most IB students take history and most of those students study Hitler at some point, and the portrayal is rarely sympathetic. However, watching the internal collapse of Adolf Hitler in the film transcends his horrific deeds and because the scene seems so realistic is then becomes relatable.
Sometimes, fiction is better at depicting reality than documentaries as directors and actors can reflect an emotive quality or atmosphere that is less available than in the data we present. Students can identify with the hopelessness of the Germans in this film because it is personal and small – not large sweeping bodies of evidence that prove a historical point. This may not help a student write a well-supported essay but it may help develop a clearer sense of the zeitgeist for them. After all, history is more than a collection of facts and a series of exams to prepare for.