Can Movies Replace Books in Reading Class?
Can students' time in reading class be spent as profitably with a bowl of popcorn and a movie as with a novel and notebook?
In central New Jersey, a former school board member and parent are raising questions about the Hamilton Township School District's policy of allowing teachers to use movies for instructional purposes and teaching students reading skills through short excerpts instead of whole books or stories.
Research says that teachers might screen movies or portions of movies in order to stimulate discussion, but that the movies wouldn't be part of the teacher's approach to teaching reading skills.
George Fisher, a former district school board member, argued in an email to the Trentonian that teachers should not use films to supplant, rather than to supplement, novels, and that asking students to read excerpts instead of whole texts is depriving them of important context.
Fisher said this approach could lead to ignorance among students. From his email to the paper:
"Text is most certainly not simply a part of a text or a work. It is the book, the work, itself," he added. "A student assignment may well be to analyze a part of the book and compare it to/contrast it to, fit it into the whole of the book. It is not to analyze that 'part' in isolation. How can one do the required analysis of a part without knowing the whole?!"
Fisher writes that, while middle school standards for literacy ask students to be able to analyze live or filmed dramatizations of literary works, they wouldn't permit teachers to entirely replace reading a novel with watching its movie incarnation.
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal