Confucius: Words of Wisdom (1996) - DVD/Video Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
 
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Confucius: Words of Wisdom (1996)
World History > Ancient East Asia > Ancient East Asia Books and Films
 
 
Confucius: Words of Wisdom (1996) Review and Guide for History Teachers Length: 44 minutes

Age appropriateness: Biography's "Confucius: Words of Wisdom" is officially rated "TV-PG" in the United States. It is safe for classroom viewing by students of all ages.The content is most appropriate for students in grades five and up.

Creators and stars: Bram Roos, David M. Frank, Dr. Tu Weiming, Hal Linden, Julia Ching, Morris Rossabi, Paul Boorstin, Roger T. Ames, Steven R. Talley, XiangLin Kong

Accuracy: "Confucius: Words of Wisdom" is an accurate account of the life and teachings of Kong Qiu Tzu, better known to Westerners as Confucius (551-479 BCE). This documentary film features everyone from leading Chinese history scholars to a descendant of Confucius. A lot of the footage appears to be taken from Chinese programs; while some of this footage appears out of place, it has the benefit of authentically picturing Chinese people, architecture, and customs.

Review: "Confucius: Words of Wisdom" provides an interesting overview of this famous ancient philosopher's life and teachings. This is a great way of introducing Confucius to students with little background knowledge on the man or his teachings.

My main issue with this documentary is the spelling and pronunciation of names. Qufu is spelled Chufu on the map, Zou is Tsou, etc. If you are planning on having students locate the cities mentioned in this documentary on a map, we have provided both spellings below in the list of vocabulary terms and names.

Also, this film does not explicitly mention the dynasty (the Zhou) under which Confucius lived.

Lastly, this documentary is quiet and slowly paced. This should not be surprising, since the subject matter is a philosopher rather than a military person. This is not to say that this documentary boring, which it definitely is not. But experienced teachers know that dim lights and soft-spoken narration are great sedatives. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you give students the questions listed below to complete as they watch this DVD in class.
 
 
 
 
Review and discussion questions:

(1) What motivated Confucius to fight for change in China? (2) Describe the circumstances of Confucius' birth. (3) What happened to Confucius and his mother after his father's death? (4) Explain the importance of grain in ancient Chinese society. (5) What significance did education have for Confucius? (6) How did Confucius gain political power in Lu? (7) Describe Confucius' ideas for a more just society. (8) What circumstances caused Confucius to leave Lu for thirteen years? (9) Describe the impact of Confucius' blunt speech. (10) How did Yan Hui's death affect Confucius? (11) What is the legacy of Confucius in the modern world? (12) Which of Confucius' ideas would you most like to see implemented, and why?

Vocabulary terms and names:

China, Chufu (Qufu), Confucius, Confucianism, contentment, disciples, Duchy of Lu, Duke Ding of Jin, education, exile, feudal society, insatiable, justice, knowledge, Laozi (Lao Tzu), manual work, nobility, peace, philosophy, poverty, prodigy, reformer, Shuliang He, superior men, teacher, Three Families, Tsou (Zou), virtue, wandering, warlords, Yan Hui, Zhou dynasty
 
 
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"Confucius: Words of Wisdom" DVD/Video Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: July 9, 2012