Learning from Films

It was not long into my education career as a teacher that I started to realise the importance and usefulness of film in my lessons. I had always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons but I had not realised what films could offer. It got my mind racing on different aspects of films that could be shown to pupils within different subject areas. I soon realised that films could enhance and develop a pupils learning and encourage them to be life long learners.

In April 2009 I wrote an article for Sec-Ed regarding the usefulness of films in education called Learning from Films. I have used films in the classroom and have found they have a lasting impression on a young students mind. Films are a successful way of engaging and stimulating young people.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought provoking subject matter. Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the University of Nottingham has stated that, “cinema as both a popular form of entertainment and a means of artistic and political expression, is a crucial area of classroom teaching. The pedagogical potential of film provides an immediate and invigorating addition to established lesson plans, while the history of the medium and its contextual socio-cultural relevance function as sources of study in their own right.”

As a Geography Teacher I have used a wide variety of different films to help show and back up key terminology or sometimes complex geographical features. The world today has created a generation of young people with very active minds. The days of a teacher in a classroom talking for 50 minutes are long gone and would not generate much enthusiasm from today’s young learners. Interaction and variety is what is needed to engage learners and film is one medium that can grip a young person’s attention. Film can enthuse and generate much debate and help a learner.

Pupils are requested to use and take part in different types of media within their learning from the National Curriculum. Films like music should be encouraged to be used within the classroom. Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School in Weymouth, Dorset, believes that ‘‘films are a really valid text as much as books. With the National Curriculum we have to look at various types of media within a child’s learning and film is one way. Films are not always easy to understand and it does take time sometimes for a young learner to fully understand the complexities of a film like the music changing in relation to the mood of the film.’’ As we are aware there are three types of learners; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. A film is one medium that incorporates all three learning styles and can hold the attention and pass on knowledge and understanding to all three main learning styles.  Nick Hargreaves says ‘film takes into account how a learner learns…it attracts the three main types of learners and engages all of them in one sitting. It reaches out to all target levels especially boys’.

It is not only watching films but using/making films within a lesson. This is sometimes difficult to do with budgets and time constraints but can be a worthwhile exercise. Young people like to be more involved in classes and using digital film recorders is one way. Pupils should be encouraged to produce news reports, presentations or stop motion modelling to help their knowledge and understanding. The technology and resources are out there and we as teachers must start to use them for the benefit of our pupils and ourselves as practitioners.

It may be uncomfortable for some of us to film ourselves in a lesson and to watch our mannerisms but would it further develop ourselves as teachers? I think the answer would be yes and should be encouraged with any teacher new or old. Filiming ourselves could be way of encourging our own development as teachers.

I remember reading Great Expectations at school and found watching the David Lean adaption a much needed guiding hand when it came to revising for the GCSE. A film may not always be true or correct, but in the right hands, us as teachers, we can filter out the bad and use the great pieces of film there is out there waiting to be used.

How Earth Made Us

Great news for fans of Professor Iain Stewart’s television programmes as he is back!  The press release for the new series is as follows; ‘following on from Earth: The Power Of The Planet, geologist and presenter Professor Iain Stewart returns to BBC Two to continue the epic story of the relationship between human civilisation and Earth.’

How Earth Made Us explores how geology, geography and climate have influenced and continue to shape human history. Each episode examines a different force, including the effects of deep earth, wind, fire and water. The series concludes with a look at how the human race has become a geological force in its own right.’

‘Travelling to some of the most iconic locations on the planet, Iain Stewart discovers how the river Nile caused Egypt to dominate the ancient world, how the break up of a super-continent 200 million years ago shaped an energy revolution, and how wind changed the history of China and Australia.’

I am a big fan of his previous programmes for the BBC. Iain Stewart is a Lecturer in Geology in the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth (my old University). The new series starts on Tuesday 19th January at 21.00. Happy viewing!

Blogging on the Blogosphere

Since I started writing my blog last Monday I have received many positive comments from colleagues, friends, and fellow teachers across the world. I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog and I hope it is useful and of interest. The early success of my blog has taken me by surprise and I hope it continues!

Alan Parkinson of the Geographical Association left a great comment on my blog. Alan has his own blog on all aspects geography which is updated daily. I have only started reading this blog this week and thoroughly recommend it to all geography teachers. The blog is current, up to date and very interesting. He has some fantastic resources and ideas on his site. I have also found out he is very good friends with Ollie Bray

My very good friend Ollie Bray wrote a lovely piece about my blog this week. Ollie and I have been friends for many years since studying geography together at the University of Plymouth. I have been a big fan of Ollie’s blog ever since he started writing it. Ollie’s blog is extremely informative and up to date on the educational developments and new technologies that come out. Ollie is the National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). He is a brilliant innovative teacher with fantastic ideas.

Ollie and myself have had many adventures over the years – all of which are true!

The Big Chill

Like many teachers, I have found myself working from home today with the snow causing many schools to close. From my house in Hampshire, the snow fall has not stopped and certainly does not seem to be easing off. It has so far reached a depth of seven inches in my front garden! This is incredible and from watching and reading the weather reports it certainly will be around for a little bit longer. The BBC has announced this is the worst weather conditions that Britain has faced since 1981.

The Met Office website has been brilliant for up to date weather reports and has some fantastic free educational weather resources available. These might be very useful in explaining the current cold snap to our students when we finally return.

Be careful on those roads over the next few days!

Welcome to miketidd.com

My name is Mike Tidd and I am Head of Geography at Gillingham School in Dorset. I have been a teacher for most of my working life and I immensely enjoy my role as a teacher. I have a deep interest in education developments and I am motivated to help fellow practitioners and young people to achieve their potential.

Over the last few years I have watched colleagues and friends write their own blogs with much interest and delight. I have seen the response these have received and how people can work collaboratively together to make a difference. It has finally come to that moment where I have decided to join the ‘conversation’.

My website will be focusing primarily on education within the UK. I shall be writing about new education developments, geography as a leading subject and how new technologies may have a role to play in education.

I look forward to your future comments from what I blog about.

I wish you all a successful 2010!