Let’s face it, books are boring. Books have been used as a traditional way of teaching in the English school curriculum, but the truth is books are exhausting endeavours for today’s average student. Throughout history we see old media being replaced with new media. The typewriter got replaced by the computer. The pay phone got replaced by the mobile phone. Now finally it’s time for books to be replaced by visual media.
Kids are becoming more and more uninterested in literature. A study by the National Literacy Trust shows that 26% of children under eighteen spent some time each day reading. This is the lowest daily level recorded since the charity first surveyed children’s reading habits in 2005. Visual images are also better for memory. A study done at Milligan college found that visual images created the strongest amount of memory recall.
So what is a better substitute for books? Movies. Don’t believe me? Ask Harvard. Jacob Drucker wrote in The Harvard Crimson in 2012 that because most films play at a rate of at least 24 frames per second, “Ben Affleck’s Argo, running 120 minutes long, is worth well more than 200 King James Bibles.” Movies are a better solution for learning in the classroom for multiple reasons.
Movies can help stimulate engagement in the classroom in a major way. Gen Z doesn’t think books are cool, but they think movies are, and students learn more when they are interested in what they’re learning. Most students would be interested in learning about movies rather than books. Forrester Research found that 75% of people are more likely to watch a video than read a text. This means students will get more information from a movie (that they are likely to watch) than a book (which they are less likely to read). If they are assigned a movie, students will actually complete the assignment and get something out of it.
It takes less time to consume visual content. Movies are only two hours long, and books can take up to half a day to read. Because it takes less time to watch a movie, students have more time to spend analyzing. Students read at a rate of 25 pages per hour, and books, on average, are 200 pages. If students can watch the story in a shorter amount of time by viewing a movie, they will have more time to focus on the analysis. They can draw detailed conclusions, find themes, and look more in depth at characters. With books, students tend to waste more time finishing the book or Googling the SparkNotes rather than actually considering its significance.
Movies also have more current messages that apply to our world today. It’s important to teach students about the problems of today rather than the problems of the past: English isn’t a history class. Reading To Kill A Mockingbird, about race in the 1930s, is not as relevant as Get Out, a contemporary 2017 film written by a Black filmmaker. Learning about race in the 1930s is not useful or relevant; the issue has evolved.
Movies often get overlooked as cheap entertainment, but many movies do have hidden messages that apply to our society today. There are many movies that have come out in recent years that have severely shaken our world due to the conversations they’ve sparked: Get Out satirized race and started an articulate conversation about the role of horror movies as well as a college level course at UCLA. Black Panther, arguably the first movie of its kind, made black audiences feel represented, and it helped young audience members to see diversity in superheroes. The Joker talks about society’s shortcomings when it comes to mental health. The Dark Knight compels audiences to reckon with whether humans are truly good or evil.
As the media evolves in the world, our society evolves with it. Our school programs shouldn’t be an exception. It’s time to make some changes to better the learning of students. Out with the old and in with the new.