Back in October, I wrote a post about a book I’d read called The Film Club.
I found the central premise of the book fascinating: Film as an enabler for further education and support.
Is it possible to learn from Mr. Gilmour, I wondered, or was his experience a one off?
My child likes a bit of TV. If she’s going to watch anything it’s usually (in my view) poor quality, teen trash. Therefore, I scoured Amazon and came up with something that I thought that we could both watch, as a test of Mr. Gilmour’s premise: The 1979 adaptation of K.M. Peyton’s horsey, planey Flambards novels. Thirteen episodes.
She loved this so much, we were watching episodes back to back. Discussions? The development of powered flight and Mr. Bleriot. Is hunting acceptable? The case for and against. The Suffragette movement. Women’s clothes in 1910 etc. etc.
We’ve now done some films too. Our latest effort was Casablanca, which if nothing else highlighted:
1. The reason why Humphry Bogart died of lung cancer. Try counting how many cigarettes he smokes.
2. A worrying lack of knowledge about world geography (America isn’t next to Australia), which prompted an immediate purchase of an atlas.
3. The plight of refugees during the Second World war.
Add to this, the fact that I’ve gone back to reading aloud to her at bedtime and her vocabulary, which was always good, is rapidly increasing. She now loves Richmal Crompton’s William books, for example.
Yesterday, we read some of M. R. James’s ghost stories, which prompted lots of questions about the history of capital punishment in the UK (Nice topic for Christmas Day. But did you know that up until 1973, you could still be beheaded for treason?).
Now, this all sounds like no fun, but it’s largely been done, by stealth, in small doses and we’ve immediately stopped stuff which she hasn’t liked. I should also point out that my girl lives in a pro-education household and probably has the optimum, quality parent time that a child should have. We hang out together quite happily. Equally, she gets plenty of time to see her friends and ‘do stuff’. So, this isn’t being ‘force-fed’ in any way.
I suppose all this has just confirmed what I already knew. That the bulk of children’s TV is a lost opportunity and it is possible for parents to imaginatively support a child’s learning processes at little or no cost.