Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can offer children in this media-saturated age is the ability to dissect content so they aren’t led astray by slanted presentation. A key element in this type of media literacy is perspective.
So what is perspective really? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s “a mental view or prospect.” That’s kind of dry. Personally, I prefer understanding perspective by analyzing the old poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” (http://www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/blind_men_elephant.html)
In this poem, blind men feel an elephant and describe what the animal seems like to them. Since they each feel a different part of the elephant, their descriptions (and perspectives) are very different.
Teaching Perspective in Media
When one educates by teaching through film, one challenges students to see the world differently. Encouraging students to discern the perspective of a film helps them filter the way they process the film.
Is the film shown from the viewpoint of the protagonist? If so, how would the story change from the perspective of the antagonist? A wonderful example of this is the 2005 children’s film “Hoodwinked,” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443536/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl) which tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood from the viewpoints of Little Red Hiding Hood, The Wolf, The Woodsman and Granny.
Another matter of perspective students might want to analyze is the film-making itself. This type of media literacy includes questions such as: what’s the camera work like? Are the scenes dark? Light? Distant or close-up?
In “Schindler’s List” the director uses the girl in red as contrast to the black and white in the rest of the film to make a point. It highlights the perspective of tragedy in the film. In the 2012 version of “Les Miserables,” the director uses many close-up shots so the viewers get true perspective of the emotional pain the main characters were feeling.
Benefits of Understanding Perspective
One of the best parts of teaching students perspective in media literacy is that it can also help them identify with others. When a teacher is teaching through film and teaches perspective, it helps students see the world in a new way–through someone else’s eyes. As educators, our goal is to broaden a student’s mind. We can do that with film. As the famous author says, “It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” ― George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life
What do you think about teaching through film in the middle school classroom? Most likely your answer factors in which type of movies are shown. Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner Tony Shalhoub (Wings, Monk, Spy Kids, Cars) thinks using film in an educational setting is a wonderful idea, especially if it’s a movie from Journeys in Film.
What’s Special About Journeys in Film
As Shalhoub points out in a clip where he talks about Journeys in Film, one of the great aspects of teaching through film via Journeys in Film material in the classroom is that kids make a connection. Many of the films are about middle school children. Instead of trying to plug into a dry documentary on adults living in a foreign land, students get to see children their own age eating, going to school and interacting with friends as they do.
Middle school children see the similarities they share with children of other cultures, and they also discover differences. These differences (living in other climates, living in poverty, practicing other religions) open a student’s mind.
A Well-Rounded Curriculum
In his article entitled “Media Literacy in the Social Studies Classroom,” Greg Nielson suggests a five-step process for optimal use of film in a classroom:
1) Choose an appropriate film.
2) Introduce the film with pre-viewing activities.
3) Provide students with active viewing tools.
4) Engage students in post-viewing activities.
5) Assess students’ historical film literacy.
Teachers have been teaching through film in the classroom for decades to engage students in the learning process. Many use film as a jumping-off point for discussion.
Journeys in Film takes it a bit further. It doesn’t leave teachers scrambling for film teaching resources. Using McRel standards (http://mcrel.org/compendium/browse.asp) so teachers know that material covers all standards, not just state-specific standards
Journeys in Film offers engaging lesson plans in visual arts, social studies, science, language arts and mathematics. These lessons are all integrated with the films offered.
As an actor and father, Shalhoub is familiar with the effect of film on learning. He offers his expertise as an Advisory Board member for Journeys in Film. It’s through his dedication to quality education and global awareness, as well as the dedication of others from Journeys in Film, that educators have stellar film teaching resources. Most of these resources are free of charge. You can check them out at the Journeys in Film store (http://www.journeysinfilm.org/support-our-work/the-store/). With Journeys in Film, movies and lessons for the middle school classroom is an enjoyable, informative experience for students and teachers alike.
 Media literacy in the social studies classroom. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed For Quick Review, 76(7), 43-45.
In partnership with acclaimed actor and Academy Award® nominee Liam Neeson, Journeys in Film is launching a new fundraising endeavor to educate American students about the world and prepare them for a global future.
For every $25,000 raised, Journeys in Film will add a new country and film to its catalogue of free lesson plans for teachers.
Current offerings include lesson plans for films from China, India, Iran, Tibet, South Korea, Maori culture and South Africa. Our next education targets are Latin American countries and conflict regions in the Middle East.
Please donate today to help us expand our global education curricula and open doors to the world for more students.
On behalf of journeys in film and the tens of thousands of students exposed to our curricula, thank you for your support!
Today we are pleased to announce that all Journeys in Film lesson plans will now be available for free download on our website.
This means that you can access film-based social studies, geography, math, science, art lesson plans and more – and teach your students about the world in the process. At no cost.
Our New Model
We have changed from a cost-recovery model to a fundraising model, and we will now be relying on generous donations from the public to develop and distribute curricula that help prepare America’s students for a global future.
For every $25,000 we are able to raise, we will create a new free film-based curriculum guide with the same high standards you are accustomed to. New guides will focus on Latin American countries and conflict regions in the Middle East.
Help Spread the Word
Join our Cause on Facebook, share our video from Liam Neeson, become a Facebook fan– anything you can do to help spread the word about Journeys in Film will help us reach more teachers and students with our global curricula, and prepare students for a global future.
Thank you for your support!