Playing movies in class enriches students’ understanding April 27, 2014 — by Sherrilyn Ling We all love that feeling of bliss and relief we get every time a teacher announces that the entire class period will be spent watching a movie. Some students watch eagerly while others snooze off, unnoticed by the teacher. Yes, movies are very relaxing and enjoyable for students, but contrary to popular opinion, they are not unproductive. We all love that feeling of bliss and relief we get every time a teacher announces that the entire class period will be spent watching a movie. Some students watch eagerly while others snooze off, unnoticed by the teacher. Yes, movies are very relaxing and enjoyable for students, but contrary to popular opinion, they are not unproductive. All right, I might be slightly biased considering that I myself am a student. But if I’m being honest, after studying loads of material in class (whether it be historical information or a book/play we’re reading in English), I may have the facts memorized but I don’t always fully comprehend them. Take the American Civil War, for example. We learned about the unfair treatment of African-Americans in AP US History, but the harsh truth is that most of us were probably still somewhat ignorant about it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that every student acknowledges the immorality of slavery, but what I’m saying is that I’m not so sure if simply learning about it impacts us as much as it should. It wasn’t until watching Denzel Washington’s whipping scene in “Glory” that I was able to visualize just how brutal situations were. I can name countless other examples — the violent attack on Pearl Harbor in “Pearl Harbor,” the extremes of nationalism in “Braveheart” and much more. Besides history, watching video clips in English this year has also been very enriching. I will admit, during our “Hamlet” unit I didn’t always understand what was going on. Often while reading, I imagined everyone speaking very calmly to one another since the language didn’t always make sense to me. But after watching several film adaptations of the Shakespearean tragedy for an English assignment, I was enlightened by the various ways that different actors performed their lines. The lines that I imagined being recited calmly were often actually shouted dramatically, providing me with new understandings of important scenes in the play. Learning the basic facts can provide students with a surface-level understanding, but films can take that knowledge and develop it even further. And just as a plus, after watching all those “Hamlet” films I can now recite the some of the lines almost as dramatically as the actors themselves.