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Using Movies to Teach History

By Walt Gardner — May 26, 2017 1 min read

There’s a misconception that teachers who show movies in class aren’t really teaching. But I maintain that movies can enhance instruction in history when used properly. The key is for teachers to make it clear beforehand the difference between fact and fiction (“Are movies a good way to learn history?” the conversation.com, May 16).

I say that because so many students regard history as dry and boring. Movies can enhance learning by engaging them. Let’s not forget that students today have been exposed their entire lives to visual images. Why not use their orientation to make instruction more memorable?

Textbooks that are finally adopted contain material that has been stripped of anything controversial. As a result, students are turned off by the pablum they read. I think they’re more sophisticated than we give them credit for, which is why movies can be just what is needed as a counterbalance.

Yet there is one caveat. When in doubt about any movie, teachers are well advised to clear the use with their principal. Teachers in K-12 do not possess academic freedom like university professors.

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