COMMENTARY: Quinn Minute – Short history of long film strips

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Rix Quinn, author of the Quinn Minute

     Not long ago at a class reunion, several of us got to talking about “film strips.” If you attended elementary school during the 1950s through 1970s, you may remember these visual learning tools.      

by Rix Quinn

     Because there were so many of us, states quickly constructed schools to contain us. Educators developed scholarly “film strips” to help instructors explain complicated concepts.

     Film strips were like slide shows. Each film strip had an audio record that came with it. The record was put on a record player, which sat next to the film projector. (If you do not know what a record player is, please consult a history book.)

     The teacher displayed the first picture of the film strip, and then started the audio. Usually, the audio narrator had an authoritative voice, so you were convinced he knew everything.

The teacher moved from one picture to the next on the strip each time the record made a beeping sound.

     A kid in our class also made random beep sounds. This made the teacher race through the pictures on the film strip, leaving us several minutes of mind-numbing audio about hibernating snakes.

     Did you personally ever see a film strip? Did anybody in your class die from boredom?

     My two favorite film strips were “From caterpillar to butterfly” and “Mr. Gorilla learns to drive.” (Actually, I made that last one up, because I never saw a film strip about a gorilla driver, especially one who could pass the written exam.)

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