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Moving Image Education

Introduction to Moving Image Education

What is Moving Image Education?

Moving Image Education (MIE) involves watching a range of short film texts; discussing and analysing them; generating discursive and creative written work, storyboards and scripts; making a range of moving-image artefacts, re-purposing ‘found’ material and digital storytelling (not necessarily large-scale filmmaking projects); exploring genres and types of texts that might be less familiar, e.g. short films, archive films, and foreign-language films; and re-examining familiar texts.

MIE develops both moving image literacy and literacy in general. The close reading of written texts is common in schools, but the close reading of films and screen texts is not, despite their universal popularity. Learning the basic grammar of screen texts opens up a whole new world to pupils, and enables them to understand how visual storytelling works.

A 21st Century Literacy

Traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, 21st century literacy is now widely understood as the ability to understand, analyse, evaluate and use a variety of media. Pupils don’t leave school without knowing the basics of written punctuation and grammar, and despite our huge consumption of screen texts, most people still have no idea about the way shots, cuts and soundscapes create meaning.

For these reasons, moving image work can often be a truly revelatory experience for pupils, as they unpack film and moving image techniques and uncover meanings. Some useful tools have been developed to support these activities: particularly The Cs and Ss' and 'Tell Me' Grid Analysis. These activities, in turn, empower pupils to develop informed opinions about screen texts and be able to discuss the meaning, morality, aesthetics and politics of what they are watching.

MIE Skills Across the Curriculum

MIE can also help improve traditional word-based literacy, and has numerous other benefits which are useful across the curriculum:

  • an enhanced understanding of how to construct a narrative
  • a better understanding of media and its role in society
  • enhanced discussion skills
  • improved confidence and self-esteem
  • a greater appreciation of diverse cultures
  • an increased sense of citizenship

The making of moving image essays and other films in groups has been shown to help pupils with: research, analysis, planning, organisation, flexible thinking and multi-tasking team working, problem solving and presentation skills computing, communication and technology skills criticism and peer reviewing social awareness, moral responsibility and personal motivation

Film and Moving Image Literacy: Critical, Cultural and Creative Approaches

Screening Literacy (the 2011 European Commission on film education) defined film literacy as: “The level of understanding of a film, the ability to be conscious and curious in the choice of films; the competence to critically watch a film and to analyse its content, cinematography and technical aspects; and the ability to manipulate its language and technical resources in creating moving image production”.

In other words, the development of critical, cultural and creative skills, taught interconnectedly.

Critical skills are not just about analytical knowledge of technique or even of literacy skills. Critical thinking skills include:

  • Developing/evaluating/responding to arguments;
  • Examining from multiple perspectives;
  • Questioning evidence/assumptions;
  • Devising imaginative ways to solve problems;
  • Formulating/articulating thoughtful questions;
  • Identifying themes/patterns and making abstract connections.

Critical thinkers are therefore: better able to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions; have confidence in their present knowledge and position; possess a better sense of self; demonstrate an understanding and compassionate heart toward those with different opinion.

Cultural skills focus on film and moving image texts as the creator of social consciousness. They spread messages, expose the viewer to a variety of social and cultural representations, develop an understanding of the diverse wants, needs and expectations of different audiences, permit personalisation, choice, breadth and depth and allow an understanding of where someone's personal narrative sits.

All cultural activity has the capacity to inspire learning by its very nature. Artistic experiences can challenge and influence how we respond to the world in reflective and imaginative ways. Creative learning has huge benefits for individuals and society in terms of wellbeing, employability and skills development.

Creative skills are those developed from artistic and cultural activity. Within MIE, this may mean learning skills in the use of camera equipment or editing software, or how to design a set, costume, lighting or soundscape; but it also means learning how to be open minded, constructively inquisitive, able to harness our imagination, able to identify and solve problems and develop creative approaches to learning.