As I was sitting at the table last night trying to put together another few weeks’ worth of lesson plans, Mr. Chili wandered over and mentioned that I might want to restrict the number of films I actually show in class.
His point – and I think it’s an entirely valid one – is that students should come away from the class having learned something vuluable. To that end, he thinks that a good portion of class time should be devoted to discussion and lesson and that film screenings should be limited to either pertinent scenes or films that aren’t readily available from Blockbuster.
While I get his point, I see a couple of problems with it. First of all – and this doesn’t really matter a tiny little bit, but I’m getting it out there because it’s the first thing that occurred to me when Mr. Chili mentioned it – I’m pretty sure that your average student wouldn’t feel cheated by spending a significant portion of class time watching films. *I* would, were I a student, but I’m not certain that the current culture would find an equal percentage of viewing vs. active instructional time a problem.
Second, I’m not sure how to make less screen time work for a couple of reasons. I don’t know if it’s reasonable to expect students to spend money to do their homework (an average movie rental is about 4 bucks in my neighborhood). I don’t know if the films I’m asking the students to watch would be available in the kinds of quantities they’d need to be if a whole class were watching them at the same time (I mean, really; how many copies of Torch Song Trilogy do you think Blockbuster has?!). While I don’t think that many students would object to watching movies as homework (I know *I* certainly wouldn’t), I’d rather that they be writing as homework; if given a choice between a writing assignment and watching a film in class, I as the teacher would prefer the film (watching kids write is boring).
What do you think? What would a reasonable percentage of class time spent viewing films be? Is it feasible to just show clips of a movie instead of the entire piece? (I’ve got a strong opinion on that, but I’m keeping it to myself until I hear what you all have to say.) Would it be feasible to assign films for homework and run on the assumption that everyone can a) afford the rental fees b) find the film and c) watch it and pay enough attention to speak with reasonable intelligence about it days later?
This is a bit of a monkey in my works. Help a Chili out, wouldja?