If you’re a high school teacher and find yourself with 35 minutes to fill, you might want to consider showing renowned German filmmaker Werner Herzog‘s new documentary about the dangers of texting and driving.
Rather than scaring through statistics, Herzog’s “From One Second to the Next,” sponsored by AT&T, relays four stories, each about a devastating or even fatal traffic accident caused by a young person who was sending a text message while at the wheel. There is no narration—the victims, offenders, and responding police officers do all the talking. According to the Associated Press, the documentary will be distributed to more than 40,000 schools.
The stories are notably similar, each taking place in a small, quiet town and without many other vehicles on the road. The repetition serves to hammer home the point: Texting and driving ruins lives. Herzog’s editorial decisions also imply that he is intrigued (horrified?) by the juxtaposition of old and new worlds. (In one story, a young man hits an Amish buggy while texting, killing a mother and two children.) Like one of the people he portrays, the director questions why people feel compelled by such an impersonal form of communication in the first place.
The message is, above all, upsetting and memorable. If that’s not reason enough to spare the class period, you could always work the film into your lessons as a way to exercise students’ critical-thinking skills.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.