How Teachers Can Use Documentary Films to Teach Students

How Teachers Can Use Documentary Films to Teach Students

  • Arya Vishwaroop
    Arya Vishwaroop

Introduction

One of the most powerful modes of communication in existence today is the medium of multimedia. Making students understand basic concepts in education is very important to the way in which they perceive education in general. Getting information through to the students is a skill that every teacher must possess, and for this, they need to employ every method necessary to do so. One of those methods is documentary films. This brings us to the question ‘what is a documentary?’, or to get even more specific, ‘what is a documentary to a student?’

What is a Documentary

A documentary can be defined as a work of non-fiction captured in the form of video, created specifically for the purpose of documenting reality, mainly for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. Early documentary films, originally known as ‘actuality films’, used to only last for one minute or less. Over time, they evolved to become longer in length and include a greater number of categories. Some examples of these categories include educational, observational, and docufiction. Documentaries are quite informative and are often used in schools as a means of teaching various principles. It is important to note here that a documentary filmmaker has the moral responsibility to be truthful to their vision without intentionally misrepresenting a topic.

What is a Documentary to a Teacher?

The idea of using documentaries in the classroom isn’t new. They have been used by teachers for a long time now, especially when it comes to the subject of social studies. Here are a few ways in which documentary films are beneficial to teachers and how they can utilize them:

Source of Information

Teachers are the students’ direct source of information, so getting their facts right is paramount. Documentary films made on a particular topic offer deep insight into the same, delving into the history and nuance associated with it. Documentaries serve as a wealth of information especially when it comes to ultra-specific topics of discussion. Teachers can use documentaries as a source of information to help them teach their students better with a better understanding of the subject.

Apply a Storytelling Mode to Teaching

Documentary movies are a great way to learn how to use storytelling as a means of teaching. Documentaries often have a well-defined structure to them. The filmmaker must have used this structure to make the delivery of the content as effective as possible, which the teacher can emulate as is, or by adding their own flair to the mix. The advantages of using storytelling as a means of teaching are many, and documentaries give teachers a template to work off of in that respect.

Recommendation as Reference Resource

Teachers can recommend their students to watch documentaries related to the subject that they are teaching as a means of providing them with additional reference material in case they are interested in knowing more about the subject in detail. The teacher can reliably recommend such documentaries to students because they will have all the information the student requires as well as have the advantage of being properly researched.

What is a Documentary to a Student?

The teacher can use the medium of the documentary movie to help students in the ways mentioned above, how will that help the students? Here are a few ways in which they can:

A Multi-Modal Approach to Learning

Using documentary movies to put a point across can be quite effective in helping the student understand the subject much better because it essentially gives them the entire topic in a well-structured format. Multimedia has the advantage of using audiovisual material to impart knowledge, which infuses several modes of learning styles into one, helping all kinds of students simultaneously.

Informative Content

The content provided in a documentary is properly sourced and well-researched, making it a valuable mode of teaching. It can help students understand the concept being taught without any difficulty or hiccups.

Third-Party Unbiased Content

As mentioned above, one of the most important things when creating a documentary is that the content in it should be unbiased and based truly and only on facts. This makes it easy to recommend as a source of unbiased information that students can use as source material for their own research.

Conclusion

Documentaries are a great way to bring about a change in the everyday routine of the classroom. It helps teachers change the monotonous nature of a classroom environment and spark interest in subjects that they would not have found interesting before that. Changing up the way in which classes are conducted can really bring about a radical change in the attention span of the students, and leave them with a hope for more such sessions in the future. This can, in turn, generate interest in the subject being taught.

Using such techniques is a great way to bring some spice into the mix when it comes to the classroom environment. Try to make small changes now and then to instill in the students some excitement which later translates to interest in the subject. Try to add different types of activities to make the class lively and interesting. School life only lasts for so long, and having such a communion to study something with the help of visual aid can help students have an authentic experience of unity among them, giving them something to look back on in the form of memories.

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