I’ve been reading a bit about FILMCLUB.

I came across it today when browsing the latest Governors magazine, under a heading; Free Flicks for Schools. Having looked at the website, it seems that FILMCLUB is just that. It is a huge on-line DVD library, offering a massive variety of films from around the world. Great. I love films, my kids love films and best of all, they love coming to the cinema with me and their dad – you know, those things most people call parents.

A few things worry me about this club. Firstly, it is funded by the DCSF. Yes, I know films are great and I know much can be learnt through them, but what I foresee is that some schools will use them as a great baby sitting device during extended schools hours, or as an easy means of raising money for the parent-teacher association. And I don’t really like that. I strictly limit television at home, both time-wise and content-wise. When my children are at school, I don’t want them looked after by an electronic babysitter. I want them to be interacting with other children, learning, thinking, playing.

A big irony of this film club is that one of the founders, Lindsay Mackie, is the Chair of the Readers and Writers Committee and was involved in setting up the national book club programme, Reading for Pleasure. Now she claims that; “Films have the power to raise your gaze and raise your game and give you a ticket to pleasure and enlightenment forever more….”

Looking at the list of movies for 5-8 year olds, I can’t help but wonder how A Bug’s Life, Chicken Run and Mr Bean, great fun though they are, are going to raise any child’s game.

Here’s a bit more from the website that, quite frankly, made me want to throw up. It is a quote from the Film Director, Beeban Kidron:

“I think that stories and the telling of stories are the foundations of human communication and understanding. If children all over the country are watching films, asking questions and telling their stories, then the world will eventually be a better place.

I completely agree – the telling of stories is the foundation of communication, but I think that they are best told by another human being. And I really think it is a bit rich to suggest that watching films is likely to make the world a better place. I think that telling stories, asking questions and philosophizing is far better done around the dinner table with the family, or at bedtime with a good book.

The website goes on to report that: “Teachers were taken by the opportunity to bond with their pupils in a different environment and pupils were excited by the opportunity to be transported to different worlds with their friends.”

For pity’s sake! If teachers want to bond with their pupils, how about going on an outward bound course? How about carrying out some team building activities on the sports field? Or having a discussion about something that is happening in the news that may be of interest to children and adults alike? And as far as being transported into different worlds with their friends is concerned – just because someone is sitting next to you while a big screen is moving in front of you both, doesn’t mean that you are doing something together. It means that you are both in your own little bubble with no chance of communicating with another human being because you don’t want to miss any of the film.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course there is a place for films. But at a time when watching television is sadly the top UK pastime and when there is an ever-increasing problem with obesity, I don’t think that that place is necessarily in schools.

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