“Oh boy! The teacher is setting up the movie projector!”
“I wonder if she’ll pick me to help switch the reels?”
“What are we watching?”
“Who cares – it’s a movie!”
Using movies (or videos) in the classroom has always been a discussion among teachers and parents alike. In fact, this past Friday, our Principal was dealing with parents upset over students watching movies in class over the lunch hour because “it’s too much screen time” and “has no educational value”. Thankfully, the Principal pointed out that lunch hours were not instructional times and, with 30+ students in a lunch room, putting on a movie or Tumblebooks or whatever was at the teachers discretion so long as they comply with the school rules about only showing “G” rated material. If the parent was not satisfied, said student could bring a book to read or simply go home for lunch- or, ironically enough, play on his/her iPad.
But what about movies during instructional time? Do they hold any educational value? Are they time fillers so teachers can complete their copious amounts of standardized tests? Or rewards for the class who behaves and fills up their reward sheet?
I was never one to show a movie for the sake of showing a movie. There had to be an educational purpose. When learning about Mali in Grade 3 social, we watched the desert section of “Planet Earth” so students could comprehend what a Sub-Saharan country was like. When I teach Shakespeare to Grade 3s, we compare the story of Hamlet to the movie “The Lion King” and the comparisons are shocking, by the way (especially for students in Grade 3).
When Potman wrote:
“…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
I don’t feel that Sesame Street, or Sol, or The Wiggles undermine traditional teaching ideologies, I feel that they helped advance them. In my last post, I included a YouTube clip explaining how our school system hasn’t changed much in 150 years, but cars and telephones have immensely – due to advances in technology. So why are school systems slow to accepting technology as a driver for change? Why are some teachers and schools still allowed to shun technology in the classrooms? Why can’t TV shows, radio and movies help students understand certain outcomes?
In fact, French Immersion has an outcome specific to using French radio and television in the classroom so students can experience the culture and different accents in French.
RA : 8.VC.3
Démontrer une appréciation* pour les émissions radiophoniques, ou télévisées, ou pour le contenu d’autres moyens de communication audiovisuels d’expression française destinée aux adolescents et aux adolescentes.
When I taught Grade 8, I would use CBC’s program Oniva to deliver this outcome to our class. Oniva was designed specifically for students in Fracophone and French Immersion schools in Western Canada.
I have to agree with Andrew in his post that today it seems that educational apps are the major focal points in education. While teachers will still use YouTube occasionally to help explain something, there seems to be more of an emphasis on what kind of apps we are using in the classroom to support learning or the newest educational software for students. I am hearing more teachers asking for subscriptions to Mathletics or Raz-Kids over movie licenses and a hiatus from YouTube due to bandwidth issues. And the latter may be the reason why…
YouTube used to be a go to. But now, our schools are plagued with slow internet and the impossibility of streaming any sort of on online digital video without it buffering. And with the stories of school divisions being sued over illegal use of movies (due to improper licensing), maybe teachers are choosing or being forced to forgo movies and television in the classrooms.
Regardless, I believe that there is a spot in the classroom where viewing can be a beneficial, pedagogical tool. And with regards to teachers having to be “entertaining” in order to ensure that students stay engaged, I’ve spoken with so many people who hated going to school – both teachers and parents. It was boring and repetitive in assignments and just memorization. I remember how that was! Maybe teachers today want the profession to be more entertaining and engaging so that both students and teachers feel like the school is a place where they want to go everyday.