Hey, kids, want to learn about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? Open up Learning Enrichment Inc.’s JFK study guide to find out more about Gary Oldman (Lee Harvey Oswald)! Joe Pesci (David Ferrie)! Tommy Lee Jones (Clay Shaw)! Prepared to accompany Oliver Stone’s JFK, the multi-page brochure, complete with two-page exercise sheet and film poster, identifies the actors who play historical figures before IDing the figures themselves; thus Kevin Costner’s name is mentioned before Jim Garrison’s. ”We knew kids would be more anxious to read about this if they recognized some of the actors involved,” says Learning Enrichment co-owner Bruce Barton.
With funding from the film’s distributor, Warner Bros., which also approved the text, 13,000 copies of the guide were recently mailed to high school social studies and college history departments in 50 major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Among other things, the brochure suggests that teachers quiz their classes about Stone’s movie and encourage students to get involved in their own mini-investigations of the assassination: ”Students may think of looking for witnesses, calling in experts on bullet trajectories, examining autopsy reports, and checking the background of all parties involved in the event.” As Barton says, ”The whole idea is to get students’ brains working.”