Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Hope You're Happy

Creative Reading is a one semester class, and next semester I will be teaching Film Studies. I'm a little worried about that, because I'm not nearly as obsessed with movies as I am with comics, and because showing a movie in class is more frustrating than you might think.

If you ask students what they would like to do in a class, they will often answer "Watch a movie!" Then when you show a movie, and you ask them to watch, there are always some students who won't even bother looking in the direction of the TV until you've specifically told them to do so 6 or 7 times. The problem is that people watch movies for fun, so when a movie is shown in class, there's an instinctive response that it must be fun time, and so you don't have to do anything. Worse, many students go to the movie theater to hang out with friends, or do other things while a TV is on in the background, and have trouble actually paying attention to a movie for any stretch of time. So while "Watch the movie" seems like a simple task to ask someone to perform, it's surprisingly difficult for many individuals.

Today we finished watching Batman Begins. I had wanted to spend three days on this, but apparently I can't count, because it took four. Since some people were having trouble paying attention I gave them a handout of questions to answer, which helped most of them focus. There were still a few, though, whose eyes kept drifting away from the screen. I kept telling one particular student to watch the movie. The third or fourth time she responded, "It's boring!" I turned to look at the screen. There was a massive explosion, as the train tracks tore apart and a train raced toward the ground. It was all motion and noise and excitement.

Before I could say anything she admitted, "Okay, it's not boring." She forced herself to watch then, at least for a few minutes.

Tomorrow we're back to Batman Year One, which we'll wrap up just in time for the end of the quarter.

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