With Oscar season now gaining momentum, my mind turns to my favorite movies of the past year, as well as to my favorite movies of all time. And it's got me thinking: What should the role of film be in education? How should movies compare to, say, the role of books? Movies still play a robust part of culture, but they have made (relatively) little impact in mainline academic settings. Is it because film remains primarily a medium of entertainment, and not education? I suppose one could say the same thing about many novels, and yet novels are still central aspects of a student's curriculum.
For most teachers, film remains, from what I can tell, a limited aspect of the course of studies. Movies are shown sporadically, maybe once or twice a semester (if at all). A lot of students still treat movies as a break from normal rigor. As one who admires great screenwriting and appreciates quality movies (see here for my review of "Silver Linings Playbook"), I wonder: is there a more significant place for film within traditional American education, especially high schools and universities, or will it always hold a marginal place?
I haven't worked through the questions entirely myself. Books and readings are my default vehicle for inspiring inquiry, but I know that the well-placed and intentionally chosen film can make a big impact. I usually show at least one film a semester, but I'm open to adding more.
What do readers think? For educators out there, what films have you shown in your classes, and for what reasons? How do you use movies or screenplays to advance your pedagogical goals?