Teaching with Movies

Posted by Administrator on 4/18/2012 to Homeschooling
Current and classic films provide a dynamic and topical backdrop for enriching the education of your homeschooling children. Each film tells a unique story with a distinct worldview that offers an encapsulated platform for exploring virtually any subject area within your homeschooling curriculum. Today, movies are the storytellers and balladeers of our time. Film forever captures a moment in time—complete with the thoughts, motivations, and beliefs that underpin the story. History unfolds and distant lands become real within the film’s frame. Dry subjects and dusty narrative give way to sights and sounds that engage nearly all of your student’s learning faculties. Adding a thoughtful guide, with lesson plans and activities, can transform the act of watching a movie from mere entertainment into a vehicle for energizing your educational activities.

Film as Art

Filmmaking has evolved into a broad area for artistic expression. Exploring the filmmakers’ art will open the door to the technical and narrative techniques for creating and telling stories through this visual medium. At one level, each film tells its story through the actors and their dialogue. At another level, the director and crew express the story and its themes and messages through various cinematic techniques including

  • Music
  • Color, Lighting, and Shadows
  • Cameras, Point of View, and Framing of Scenes
  • Narrative Sequencing and Time
  • Humor
  • Character Development
  • Irony
  • Foreshadowing

Every nuance and detail is used to articulate the vision of a film’s creators. Exploring these tools and techniques can help your children learn to express themselves with film and video, or spark an interest in the various technologies that underpin the production of film and video.

Complementing Traditional Subjects

With, literally, a world of film subjects from which to choose, you can find a movie that is topic and age appropriate for your homeschoolers. You have the luxury to select films that can aid in teaching particular subjects such as:

  • English
  • Drama
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Geography
  • Government
  • Speech/Rhetoric
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • History
  • Medicine
  • Music and Dance

Context, Worldview, and Critical Thinking Skills

Movies can entertain and inform. Every film reflects the worldview of its creators, and that is an important thing to keep in mind whenever viewing a film. Using a movie as an educational tool, you can help your children learn to view critically, analyze the message, and understand the context that is being conveyed. The very same tools that the filmmaker uses to create an interesting and compelling film are also employed in framing the messages or agendas that are present within that film. Using film in educating your kids gives you the chance to explore the world and the various influences in a controlled environment—an environment that you control. Guided discussions and activities allow you to articulate your beliefs and worldview in comparison with what is portrayed in any particular film. Ensuing dialogue helps children ask questions, explore alternatives and learn to discern and evaluate what they see and hear from the perspective that you, as a parent, are instilling in their minds and hearts. The insight and skills derived from a study of selected films can prove invaluable in equipping your children’s future lives as adults.