Found In Translation

One of the highlights of last week’s Scottish Film and Learning Festival was Rob Smith’s presentation ‘Using Film in the Classroom‘, which you can hear (though unfortunately not see) on the Radio EduTalk website by clicking here, and I would suggest that one of the reasons Rob’s workshops and Literacy Shed website are so popular, is that he is thoroughly convincing when he argues that using film in the classroom is the key to unlocking creativity, especially when it comes to the quality of children’s writing. And that is the point. Reading or watching film is often seen as an alternative to using printed texts, which leads to a polarised debate about the relative merits of films and books. ‘Books allow you to use your own imagination, while in a film the director has done all the work for you’, the argument goes, ‘and surely the only way to improve writing skills is by studying WRITTEN texts?’

If you listen to Rob, you will discover the fallacy of both statements, and if you accept that using books and using film in the classroom are not mutually exclusive, you will have made the problem disappear. Keep in mind also that there are many ways to create texts, and the written word is only one of them. Which is why one of my Ten Tools For Reading Film is the grandly titled ‘Generic Translation’, an approach which allows teachers and students to experiment with media and come to understand the possibilities each of them presents. Take this example of a short animation, based on the Charles Bukowski poem ‘The Man With The Beautiful Eyes’. What better way to develop an understanding of metaphor than by studying the printed text and the animation side-by-side.

You will find more detailed suggestions on how to use this film in the classroom, as well as many others, at the Moving Image Education website by clicking here.

To listen to more talks from the Scottish Film and Learning Festival see previous post.

3 thoughts on “Found In Translation

  1. Bill, thanks for your post. I agree. Reading print text is the high culture of text and film, is considered somewhat low culture. Reading print-based texts is certainly favoured in schools and higher education where I am in Australia. Visual literacy and the ability to navigate, interpret and produce visual texts requires an understanding of the language of visual literacy. Exploring this through film, animation and illustration makes sense as visual literacy is so pervasive in new media today. I am a lover of books, yet I consider all literacies to be valuable especially in shifting new media landscapes. You may be interested in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for resources on visual literacy. I will enjoy taking a look at the resources you suggest.

  2. Pingback: You WILL Survive. Popularising Shakespeare. | Bill Boyd - The Literacy Adviser

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