This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
Out of the influence of personality on mental development comes the importance of drama. Drama is so close an approximation to real life as to have some of its educative power. Children long for experience of life; they also long to express themselves; participation in drama meets both of these longings, at least for all except the most unimaginative. They catch the spirit of the hero in the play, and it may live in them ever after. The ancient Athenians made the theater their most prominent educational agency. The Puritans lost it in their zeal to cut out whatever was pleasure-giving, and we of to-day have only recently set out to recover it.
The moving-picture show gives an inexpensive method of reproducing all that is visible in drama and other exhibits of personality. It is not doing for drama what printing did for literature, but it is giving the world a new form of drama that is capable of universal diffusion.
When the children in my reading class speak the words supposed to be said by some animal, they not only try to imitate the voice but also the facial expression and attitude of body.
If I tell a story to a second-grade child, it will give him new ideas which he will want to tell again in his own fashion. If I describe an Indian, the child may try to draw a picture of an Indian. When I describe the movements of some animal to the children, they will try to imitate its action and want me to do it too.
Recently a teacher in the M. school told her pupils the story of Agonack and at noon and after school we noticed all the little tots making snow houses and trying to reproduce the life of Agonack.
Motion pictures have intensified alike the need for constructive action and the temptation toward destructive action. The suddenness of their advent, their immediate monopolization by the vaudeville interests, the hugeness of their appeal and their fascination for the unsophisticated and the young, have created many bogies but many real emergencies as well.
President G. Stanley Hall has termed them "perhaps the greatest didactic device since the invention of printing." But compare them with that invention which created a revolution in human life! The printing press carried knowledge and thought to a whole world; but how relatively slow was the process, - no more rapid than the growth of literacy! Compared with printing, the motion-picture goes like lightning; in a decade, it has broken through to the eyes and brains of hundreds of millions of people, of all culture-grades and of every land. - The Survey, Vol. 34, p. 315, John Collier, "The School-Keeping of the Motion-Picture Showmen."