Why Movie Studies?

Compared to other classes, we watch a lot of movies in Mr. Rowe’s Humanities 8 class. Why? It’s not just to fill time.  It’s not just to give the kids something they already do a lot of.  We study movies because this visual medium is the primary story telling vehicle of our time.  We watch movies far more than we read books and while a reading nerd like myself may privately lament this fact, I also am a movie nerd and know we need to educate using both.

Here is a quote from an excellent book called The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens. I found it very helpful in understanding the need to educate students in movie watching and not be passive viewers.

Literacy is always a response to emerging technology. While conservative elements in a society often fear and resist change, the transformation is usually painless, especially, in the case of visual media, for those who embrace the notion of literacy evolving to reflect our human desire for the most direct, unmediated modes of communication. The power of visual media has been with us from the beginning of our species, as we are physiologically constructed to consume and find meaning from images in a way that transcends other forms of communication. With today’s visual technology, our work lives will be changed forever, and soon it will be as unfathomable not to know how to make a video as it is not to know how to send an e-mail. The vocabulary of Hollywood is becoming the vocabulary of Main Street. We must embrace these powerful tools, not only to ensure American viability and competitiveness, but also to realize the opportunity they offer to make us more effective and valuable as employees, managers, and leaders.

I want kids to be active watchers and see the meanings between the lines of dialogue and camera angles.  A movie is a powerful way to deliver important messages, both positive and negative, to the minds of our young people and it is important they have the mental tools to interpret what they are watching.  We will keep watching and thinking and learning so we are ready for what comes our way.