I was just reading the blog of another educator called “Why I Don’t Show Movies Before A Break”. His final comment was that he was choosing learning over entertainment. I find that an interesting and somewhat judgemental statement which implied that those of us who choose to show a film before Christmas break are somehow inferior educators. Here are my thoughts:
1) My students work incredibly hard throughout the semester. I have high expectations of them, and I have very tight timelines (I teach International Baccalaureate students, and I have to meet external assessment deadlines). My students rarely get to watch films, and if they do, they are always related to what we are studying (Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Great Gatsby, and so on). If I choose, on the day before Christmas break, to show a film, it’s a treat for them, one they hardly ever get.
2) We all build community in different ways. When, on the day before the holidays, I give my students candy canes, then enjoy a film with them in a relaxing and collegial atmosphere, I’m showing them that I appreciate their efforts throughout the term, and that I care about them as people, not just as learning machines. My grade nines watched “She’s The Man” (a modernized version of Twelfth Night) and we laughed our heads off together–it was a warm, happy atmosphere that was well-suited to their excitement level ( and for some students, their anxiety level–not everyone looks forward to the break).
3) I’m also a parent. My own fourteen-year-old is an excellent student who enjoys the challenge of learning, and like my students, he also works incredibly hard in school. His geography teacher showed their class a film before the break. She’s an excellent educator and I trust her judgement (and he really enjoyed the film).
Ultimately, we are all professionals. If Teacher A chooses to teach a 75 minute lesson on the day before holidays, and Teacher B chooses to show a movie, we must assume that they are both doing what they think is the best thing for their students, and not sit in judgement of either. Happy holidays, everyone!!