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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Learning through Film: Lessons from Workshops for Teachers and Pre-service Teachers of English

  • Author(s): McDermott, Kevin
  • Hinchion, Carmel
  • McGivern, Alicia
  • Meade, Della
  • et al.

This article looks back on the professional development offered to teachers of English to support them in their teaching of film since the introduction of film into the English syllabus in Ireland in 1998. It focuses on three inter-related elements: the interpretation or reading of film; the pedagogy that supports this interpretation; the potential of exploring issues of social justice and the self-other relation through narrative films. The article outlines four distinct phases in the professional development offered to teachers and shares the emerging findings. The first phase involved the introduction of film and its use in opening up discussion and creating interpretative communities in teacher education workshops for teachers of Leaving Certificate English. The second involved an exploration of film genre in workshops designed for teachers of Transition Year. The third involved the development of a dialogic form of pedagogy in interpreting film in a series of workshops directed at teachers of Junior Cycle English. The fourth involved the use of film in exploring education for justice in a series of workshops for pre-service teachers on Bachelor of Education and Master of Education programmes. The article explores the link among narrative film texts, generative questions, thoughtful interpretation, and the value given to dialog and the movement of question and answer in professional development workshops where narrative films are viewed and interpreted. The article is autoethnographic in character (Holman Jones 2005; Ellis et al. 2010). It involves self-reporting, descriptions of practice and reflection on that practice.

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