4 Benefits of Adding Film to Your Curriculum
Understandably so, putting your feet up on your desk and streaming the latest Pixar film is an educational that is, to put it politely, frowned upon.
Though students need excitement and engagement, showing movies in class can come off a little lazy, especially through the eyes of an administrator.
But that doesn't mean the film and filmmaking should be excluded from a child's development! Below, I've detailed 4 unique reasons for letting the magic of movies seep into your curriculum.
1. Cinema is a uniquely American art form
The first ever commercial display of motion pictures was done in one of America's greatest cities: New York! Thomas Edison, using his invention, the kinetoscope, was able to prevent still images in a series, thereby projecting motion on the screen.
From there, the entire history of the United States can be distilled through film. Working on a unit about American Slavery? Showing clips from Roots is a great way to drive home the depravity of slave owners and the resiliency of African slaves. Teaching Civil Rights? Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night, does a good job of showcasing the racial tensions prevalent throughout the U.S. during the 1960s.
2. Movies can be used for character education
Character education is a big part of school curriculums, especially in the elementary grades. There are a plethora of films you can use to drive home character themes with your students.
Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon is a terrific way to introduce tolerance to young students.
Gabrielle Muccino's Pursuit of Happyness has a great message about integrity and self respect.
Disney/Pixar's Coco can be screened to teach students about second chances, discovering their passions, and trust.
3. Films can improve writing
A helpful consequence of infusing your curriculum with films is that it teaches students the art of storytelling.
One of my favorite examples is the opening of Pixar's WALL-E. We are introduced to a small, cleaning robot, hard at work boxing up trash on an Earth overrun with filth. The scene is completely devoid of dialogue. So, if students were to write that scene out on paper, how would they describe it? Think of all the wonderful imagery they could use to describe piles of trash the size of skyscrapers!
4. Filmmaking is a creative way to share
Students really love to show off their creativity in culminating projects. Since many students have access to smartphones these days, adding an option for groups or individuals to film their presentation is not only a great way to spark creativity, but also a good way to get students who may suffer stage fright to come out of their shell. Screening your film in front of the class can still be daunting, but it's better (for some) than standing up and reading off of index cards!