Teachers to incorporate TV shows in enhancing curriculum

February 1, 2017 — by Alexandra Li and Elicia Ye

It’s clear that television shows like “Sherlock” can appeal to many different demographics, which is important to its success. In fact, Sherlock’s appeal to teenagers in itself is something of an anomaly. Teenagers are typically attracted to stories with young adult-age characters; nonetheless, they are fascinated by “Sherlock” due to the distinct nature of the characters.

 

When the new season of PBS’s “Sherlock” premiered at the start of the new year, it was easy to assume that the majority of those who tuned in to the exciting story were teenagers, putting off the start of the second semester of the school year. However, it’s not uncommon to find people of other ages, eyes glued to the screen as the “Sherlock” theme song plays again.

It’s clear that television shows like “Sherlock” can appeal to many different demographics, which is important to its success.

In fact, Sherlock’s appeal to teenagers in itself is something of an anomaly. Teenagers are typically attracted to stories with young adult-age characters; nonetheless, they are fascinated by “Sherlock” due to the distinct nature of the characters.

“He is extremely intelligent, blunt and unintentionally humorous,” junior Shania Jafri said. “My first reaction when I was trying out this show was ‘Wow, he speaks way faster than my brain could think and he has zero filter.’”

English 10 and 11 Honors teacher Amy Keys has also found herself among the crowd of “Sherlock” fans. Even though she hadn’t always been a fan of mysteries, they eventually grew on her. So when this new show show came out, she was excited to see it.

“It was around the time that I started teaching that I realized that mysteries actually make you such a good reader because you have to notice details and be able to question the reliability of the narrator or of a character, and notice what details are there and why they’re there,” Keys said.

In fact, when teachers incorporate popular TV shows or movies in their curricula, students seem to gain a better understanding of the material.

Jafri recalled that when her English 11 Honors class read “Hamlet” last semester, teacher Natasha Ritchie showed them a movie version of the play starring David Tennant in the lead role. Watching the screen version deepened their understanding of the play, she said.

Keys has also been able to use scenes from HBO’s “The Wire” in teaching “Great Gatsby” and “Sherlock” in teaching her English 10 students the power of observation and inference.

“I definitely gained an appreciation for details even though I had watched the clip before,” said sophomore Ruchi Maheshwari, a student in Keys’ English 10 class. “Watching it with the class helped me see some details which I had not noticed the first time around, and it helped teach me how to close read a passage.”

Aside from using occasional TV shows in lessons, Keys has also found that TV shows have helped her understand the complexity of everyone’s stories and how each person fits into society.

“I think film is one of the highest art forms because it’s using everything,” Keys said. “It’s using shot composition, it’s using visuals, it’s using sound, music, narrative, character and acting. So if you can unite all of those things to get some point across, hopefully it’s working on multiple parts of their brains and their hearts and they remember it and respond to it.”