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History At Risk? A Survey Into The Use Of Mainstream Popular Film In The British Secondary School History Classroom
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Dr Anthony Blake
Blake A, Cain K
International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research
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Although the controversy surrounding ‘reel’ history raises important questions about employing mainstream popular film in Secondary or High Schools detailed empirical evidence about its’ use in Britain is limited. Using self-completed questionnaire, a survey of thirty history teachers from the North-East of England confirmed
the routine use of film. Although conscious of the ‘dangers’ of misinformation, this didn’t deter history teachers from using film, with many seeing this as an advantage in identifying misconceptions. Overall, teachers used feature films for a range of generic as well as historical pedagogical purposes, offering the opportunity for ‘historical thinking’.
Yet the use of historical film is not unproblematic nor is it exploited to its full pedagogical potential by all teachers in developing
empathetic understanding or a critical approach to film as a source of historical information
Further research is needed not only into the influence of teachers own epistemological beliefs about history on their use of film and the impact of film on students’ historical thinking but also regarding the ‘unseen’ dangers to student learning posed by the classroom as a viewing context inconsistent with how students’ acquire their historical knowledge through film. Finally, the implications for teacher educators are addressed.
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