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History at risk? A survey into the use of mainstream popular film in the secondary or high school history classroom

Lookup NU author(s): Karl Cain


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Although the controversy surrounding ‘reel’ history raises important questions about the wisdom of employing mainstream popular film in the Secondary or High School history classroom, detailed empirical evidence about its’ use is limited. A study of thirty history teachers from the North-East of England was carried out using a self-completed questionnaire to provide information about how and why they employed film in their teaching. Findings confirm the widespread and routine use of mainstream popular film in the classroom consistent with the cultural importance of film as a major source of knowledge and understanding about the past. Although conscious of the possible ‘dangers’ of misinformation, this did not deter history teachers from using film. Many of the teachers saw this as an advantage which could be exploited to identify and address existing or potential misconceptions about the past. Overall, teachers in the survey used feature films for a variety of general as well as historical pedagogical purposes, offering an opportunity for ‘historical thinking’. However, whilst teachers are aware of the ‘dangers’ of misinformation, further research is needed regarding ‘unseen’ dangers to student learning posed by the classroom as a viewing context. Finally, the implications for teacher educators are addressed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blake A, Cain K

Publication type: Article

Journal: Journal of Curriculum Studies

Year: 2012

ISSN (electronic): 1366-5839

Publisher: Routledge


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