Movie Magic

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Back in January 2010 I wrote about hoe films can enhance a teachers lesson on my blog and for Sec-Ed in April 2009. I have always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons. 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.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought-provoking subject matter. My good friend from my Southampton University days, Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the University of Helsinki, 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. My good friend and former flatmate, 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 kinesthetic. 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’.

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. I would really like to know what films you use in the classroom – do you have a ‘Top Ten Movie List’? Please send in your comments via the comment box below or by twitter @tiddtalk – I look forward to reading your choices!

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My Top Ten Geography Films

As I have previously stated in my blog and from my article for Sec-Ed, films are a fantastic way in which to engage young learners. For interest (and a bit of fun!) I have complied together my ‘Top Ten’ Geography related films. This first appeared in my article Learning from Films in April 2009 for Sec-Ed.

  • Slumdog Millionaire – life in within the shanty towns of Mumbai
  • Brassed Off – industrial decline in the UK
  • The Day After Tomorrow – climate change has never been this traumatic!
  • City of God – the daily lives of young people in the favelas of Rio
  • Twister – the formation and impact of a twister
  • There Will Be Blood – industrial growth of a more economically developed country
  • Dante’s Peak – shows most of the features of a volcano
  • Lawrence of Arabia – illustrates desert features
  • Kes – life in 1960s Britain
  • The Full Monty – industrial decline within the UK

Q. What would be in your Top Ten Films for your subject? I look forward to hearing from you.