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Clive Piscopo

Films for Dummies

Why do we keep using films or video clips in schools when they have become such a common day class room practice? What is so special about them? Are they actually still effective?

Born in the mid-80s and educated all throughout the 90s, I still remember the thrill of seeing film strips at school or that moment of the week when we used to group around a bulky television set and watch a classic. Neither have I forgotten that sense of awe on seeing my first movies at the cinema when I was around 8.

Fast forward a few years … We have better sound, better visuals, and better film products. Yet there is no doubt that the use of film clips has nowadays lost the wow factor it had at the beginning. In a media-dominated, visually-hyped and image-bombarded society, is there still room for such an aid in today’s classroom?

I strongly believe that – despite many class room obstacles – it mostly boils down to the way the video clip is presented.

In truth, nothing glues us to our seats like a good story. And in our contemporary, depthless world, educators need to keep believing in and encourage room for provocation of thought. Movies and movie clips are just one aid to get somewhere. Perhaps, another road to get anywhere. And they should therefore not be abused or misused.

In more practical terms, films and film clips as a classroom exercise cannot substitute the students’ thought process. They should not serve as a time-filler which replaces the teacher or end up an unproductive experience which only strengthens the already-present passive mentality.

No. Films are not for dummies. They are, however, a friendlier way to approaching a subject. A language that today’s students understand and even associate themselves with.


Think of these two different You Tube Phenomena:

a) Susan Boyle’s audition performance of “I dreamed a dream” and how it went viral, touching millions of people in the process.

b) As of May 20, 2013, Psy’s music video “Gangman Style” has been viewed over 1.61 billion times on You Tube, hence making it one of the most powerful commercial hit in the industry’s history.

If used effectively and students are well prepared before and after, film clips can even stimulate dormant responses.

They can engage the mind, touch the heart and, perhaps, even both.

Clive Piscopo

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