question of the day: Should film be taught in school the way that literature is?

The Third Man Orson Welles

Did you dread the semester of English lit that you knew was gonna cover Thomas Hardy or Charlotte Brontë? Would have felt the same about a semester of cinema lit that would cover Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick? From today’s Telegraph:

Under new proposals, children would be schooled in the history of British film and be taught about the mechanics of film-making in order to encourage a new generation of scriptwriters, directors and behind-the-camera technicians.

“Unlike other art forms – literature, theatre or music, for example – film has yet to find its rightful place in education,” said the government-commissioned report into the future of the British film industry.

“Every child and young person in the UK must have the opportunity to see a wide range of films, and have the opportunities to learn about and to make their own films.”

The concern here is specifically that the British public is not aware enough of British film…

With the exception of a small number of box office hits – The King’s Speech, The Inbetweeners and the Harry Potter franchise – British films “are being seen by too small a percentage of the UK public”.

Lord Smith’s recommendations include the launch of a British film ‘brand’ to promote homegrown output and a nationwide programme of film clubs and screenings in rural areas to ensure that those outside the big cities are able to see a wide range of films.

…but the question deserves to be asked in a more general way.

Should film be taught in school the way that literature is?

I think it’s very urgent that children, even very young children, be taught media literacy — so that, for instance, they can determine the difference between advertising and narrative — but I have to confess that it never occurred to me that we might teach children how to watch and interpret great movies in the same way that we teach them how to read and interpret great fiction.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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