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Simon Armitage- Integrating Film and Video in Learning

Simon Armitage from the Stephen Perse Foundation writes that when students “step into a room, the ideal is that they feel like they are entering the ‘world’ of that subject”

The best teachers will want to engage their students in a learning experience that is as immersive as possible. When they step into a room, the ideal is that they feel like they are entering the ‘world’ of that subject. That used to be a world defined by the walls of the classroom but now, with iPads 1 to 1 at the Stephen Perse Foundation, the digital world and the physical reality are merging.

Film and video are more seamlessly integrated into the learning process than before. Extracts as well as entire films become important in order to contextualize a topic. So, for example, healthy debate can ensue very quickly, prompted by a little stimulus from a film that is then complemented with some online research or with the swift creation of their own film.

Using film as a discussion catalyst

Film might be the trigger for the exploration of a topic or an excellent summary. One of our history teachers, Julia Payne, has written on the value of film in a recent article. Referring to the controversial, ‘Blackadder’ debate during early 2014 she wrote, “the particular viewpoint of ‘lions led by donkeys’ that is exemplified in Blackadder and O What a Lovely War! is, as Tristram Hunt says, an entry point not just to the war but to historical interpretation of it. It is central to contemporary historical pedagogy to teach students how interpretations of historical events vary and change over time. Students need to consider why it is that different historians can study the same events and come to such different conclusions as a vital step to being able to draw their own supported conclusions. The view of the First World War as an unnecessary war, conducted in a way profligate of human life by an out-of-touch elite was born of a particular historical moment and has since been questioned. This could lead to a fascinating discussion of what it is that shaped this interpretation and why it has been questioned.”

A new role for film?

There has never been a more important time to re-assess what we do in the class, who we use resources and what sort of educational outcome we are aiming for. Film remains an important element, whilst it may also be that film is also used in new and exciting ways because so much technology in the hands of the students has that sort of effect!