“The Woman in Gold” Offers a Golden Learning Opportunity in Collaboration

“Once the past has been put to right, we will not have come here in vain…We should be reunited with what is rightfully ours.”

These are the powerful words of Maria Altman, a woman whose story we become well-acquainted with in my Spanish IV Honors and Spanish IV Regular classes.

Altman was an ordinary citizen who became a historic figure when she decided to sue the Austrian government in order to recover a portrait of her aunt, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, painted by Gustav Klimt and stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War.

The Spanish IV classes have studied this case and viewed the film that portrays it, “The Woman in Gold.” The film serves as a primary text for an exciting interdisciplinary unit. In this unit, we study art in times of war, the judicial system, the Geneva Convention, principles in debating and mock trial competitions, and history.

After viewing the film, we reenact a scene with a script that the girls prepare entirely in Spanish. The students serve as witnesses, lawyers, and judges, and members of the jury. This unique experience culminates with a live reenactment in a courtroom. This year, the Honorable Judge Neil Thomas III graciously offered us use of his courtroom in the Hamilton County Courthouse.

It is so impressive to see our girls use their desire to research in order to prove their points, and defend their arguments throughout this process. The eventual mock trial rivaled any I have seen in high-school competitions—and it was done completely in Spanish.

– Maria Carlone, World Languages Department Chair

Does your school do something similar?

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