We appreciate Mr. David Zax's recent article in Slate Online Magazine about The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones and the educational possibilities, or lack thereof that the series offers. Despite making several good points about the series, Thomas Riddle and I thought we should respond with a few comments about the article.
It must be made clear that we do not believe in using Indiana Jones as a tool for revealing entirely factual information. We do not assume teachers can simply show the movies and have students walk away experts on the Ataturk Revolution or the writings of Hemingway. In his article Zax says, "the show may not be so good at conveying ideas-don't expect to pop out the DVD and suddenly be able to rattle off Wilson's Fourteen Points." This idea is completely against what we intend for the series. We don't want students to watch the series to learn every single fact, but we do want them to walk away asking, "What are the Fourteen Points?" or "What could have been done differently at the Paris Peace Conference?" Young Indy serves as a catalyst, not a definitive examination of history.
We also hope that following Indiana Jones's adventures can spark debate in modern history as well. Take for example Indy's observation of the remapping of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East after World War I. Teachers can use this lesson to discuss how the effects of decisions made in 1919 still plague the world today, specifically the Middle East. The same ideas can be used to explain the causes of World War II and Hitler's rise to power.
We encourage our readers and those interested in Young Indy to watch the series, view the documentaries and decide for yourself if Young Indy has something to offer your lessons or your quest for knowledge. This debate is a good example of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones's intended purpose: to spark a thirst for a deeper understanding of history and perhaps to have a little fun along the way! I hope people will take this opportunity to 'dig a little deeper' than what's on the surface and discover if there are any legitimate relics of knowledge lying beneath. No one ever said history had to be boring.