Column: Movies spice up the curriculum, help students progress

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Jay Feinstein” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Juniors Brendan Caraban, Cristina Muldoon, Emory Holmes and Julian Cohen watch “A Better Life” in Spanish class.

by Connor Vasu

Shrek may not seem like the most educational movie, but a few weeks ago, my English teacher showed it to my class to show the opposite of the classic hero’s journey. Unsurprisingly, my class was receptive to the movie, and most of us can agree that the film helped us learn more than we would have learned by taking notes.

Showing movies in school––from historical videos of Italy to Rango in Spanish––often can spice up the curriculum and help students learn and progress faster.
After three classes of Donkey cracking jokes and tormenting Shrek, we saw the sidekick playing a role not present in classical literature. Actually watching the movie, made the classic hero’s journey more understandable.

My English teacher could have easily given us a slideshow of notes as we half-processed the information, but showing the movie instead presented the information in an exciting and unique way.

For those who learn best with visuals, movies can help. And even for those who learn best with straight notes, they get enough of those already, and it is good to have some variation of the curriculum.

Many movies are shown before a break or during a transition time from one topic to the next. Showing a movie can be a good way to transition students into a new topic, or at least get students to learn something before they embark to Florida.

Furthermore, films in a foreign language can help students learn idioms in the target language and immerse them in a different culture.

The teacher showing the video also gets a break from lecturing and can grade assignments while students are watching.

However, one of my elementary school science teachers showed almost 100 videos in the year. My dad took to asking me every day when I came home, “Which movie did you watch today?”

Showing too many films could have the potential to be harmful. Students are not taught information by the teacher, instead blasted by wave after wave of videos.

But, films are exciting new ways to present information that help students learn the material and give teachers a much-needed respite.