Getting StartedSite MapHome
Enhancing Education Enhancing Education ProcessFormatsCase StudiesResearch and Resources
Culture Shock:

Educational Outreach Elements


Pre-Broadcast Brochure
65,000 pre-broadcast brochures were sent to high school English department heads, literature teachers, social studies department heads, media specialists, and college faculty in a range of departments, including humanities, American studies, American literature, U.S. social and cultural history, history of jazz, history of film, and art history. The brochure describes the series and allows educators to order the Culture Shock series guide.

Culture Shock teacher's guide
View cover

Teacher's Guide
Twenty-eight thousand Culture Shock teacher's guides were distributed upon request at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference and to public television stations to support local educational outreach efforts. The guide includes discussion and activity ideas for each film as well as for the overarching themes of the series, and an abbreviated version of the "Huck Finn in Context" curriculum, with ordering information.

"Huck Finn in Context": A Teaching Guide

'Huck Finn in Context' teacher's guide
View cover

View online version

This teacher's guide, which accompanies one of the Culture Shock films, is based on curriculum developed in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a community that addressed a challenge to teaching Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a unique manner, by teaching the novel within its historical and literary context. The guide offers the point of view of all the groups involved -- parents, students, teachers, professors, and administrators -- and provides a model for dealing with curriculum complaints. WGBH adapted the Cherry Hill curriculum and distributed it to high school principals, curriculum specialists, and teachers; an online version of the "Huck Finn in Context" guide is also available on the series Web site. In addition, teachers can purchase the "Huck Finn Coursepack," which includes the curriculum, all the companion readings cleared for classroom use, and a copy of Culture Shock's "Born to Trouble" video. WGBH received additional funding support from the Ford Foundation to produce the "Huck Finn in Context" teacher's guide.

As part of WGBH's partnership with the NCTE, the "Huck Finn in Context" project was featured in the November 1999 issue of English Journal, in an article by the author of the teacher's guide about her experience in Cherry Hill.

A second article, "Culture Shock: Using Art and Art Controversy to Teach History," was published in the National Council for the Social Studies' magazine Social Education.


Culture Shock Web Site
View Culture Shock Web site

The companion Web site to the Culture Shock series was developed and launched on PBS Online several weeks before broadcast. In addition to giving background on the series, the site provides context to the issues addressed in the films and presents additional examples of works of art that were deemed controversial in their own era or today.

Aimed at a general adult audience, the goal of the site is to explore the many contexts in which art is created and understood.

Because much of the material on the site is controversial, the site includes a warning page that all site visitors come to first, which explains the nature and contents of the site. Within the site, users must pass through further "gates" before reaching potentially controversial material. This makes the site difficult for many K-12 audiences to use, although it has been popular with college users and informal groups of adults.

The Culture Shock Web site includes the following elements:

Culture Shock Flashpoints
View Flashpoints

  • Text and image Flashpoints that explore works of art that crossed the boundary of what was acceptable in their time.
  • You Decide, a series of provocative online polls that challenge users to question their assumptions about controversial art.
  • Online panel discussions and public forums on topics such as the role of public religious sentiment in the exhibition and distribution of the arts, and teaching controversial material.
  • A "For Teachers" section that includes a brief guide for teachers on how to use the site, a one-page sitemap that points to features appropriate for use in the K-12 classroom, and an online version of "Huck Finn in Context: A Teaching Guide."

Person-to-Person Activities

WGBH conducted two workshops at the NCTE annual conference: a panel discussion including representatives from all the parties involved in the Cherry Hill experience, and a workshop on how to use the curriculum that emerged from these efforts. Additional teacher-training workshops were held at University of Massachusetts/Boston and the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.

The College Art Association encouraged universities to bring the series to their campuses, and the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) worked with student activity directors to develop campus-wide Culture Shock events. Activities included screening and discussion series of the four films; a teacher-training series around controversial contemporary works of art for local high school educators; a continuing education course anchored in the four central themes of the series; and a forum on jazz, rock 'n' roll, and rap involving local DJs and a college music department.

WGBH established a two-pronged strategy with Borders Books & Music. In fall 1999, activities and related merchandise displays culminated in Banned Book Week, and Culture Shock materials were distributed during Fall '99 Teacher Appreciation Nights. A second initiative coincided with the series premiere in January 2000, featuring in-store displays highlighting books related to the series themes, and related outreach events.

The Television Race Initiative encouraged PTV stations to use the program "Born to Trouble: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to create dialogue around race; the Many Faces, Many Voices diversity initiative organized community activities around "Born to Trouble."

Next > Outcomes

In this section:

    Auschwitz: Inside the
    Nazi State

    Building Big

    Culture Shock

        Goals & Audience

>      Educational
        Outreach Elements


        Challenges &
        Lessons Learned



    In Search of Shakespeare

    Lewis & Clark:
    The Journey of the
    Corps of Discovery

    My Journey Home

    The New Americans

    Poetic License


Process | Formats | Case Studies | Research & Resources
Home | Getting Started | Site Map | Privacy Policy

© 2004, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All rights reserved.