“They’re not just for Fridays anymore”: Media literacy, Hollywood, Historical Inquiry, and Hollywood Films by Charles Elfer, Scott L. Roberts, Brian Fahey
For generations, and perhaps since the inception of the motion picture industry, teachers of history have recognized the utility of incorporating Hollywood, or commercial, film productions into their classrooms as a visual stimulus. Alan Marcus and Jeremy Stoddard, prolific scholars in the area of teaching with film, reported that more than two-thirds of the teacher population surveyed in a recent study claimed to use film in the classroom as frequently as once per week. Another notable contributor, William Russell, has echoed these findings and in a similar study found film in the history classroom to be ubiquitous, with 100% of participants reporting the use of film on a monthly basis. While anecdotal, teachers with whom we work regularly cite the use of film as a mainstay in their practice, a feature of the history classroom that certainly reflects our own memories as history students as well. Moreover, although these findings are far from exhaustive, they do underscore some important classroom realities. Advancements in the technological landscape of schooling have significantly impacted the degree of access to media and film for teachers and students. As illustrated through such commonly known platforms as YouTube or TeacherTube, the availability of full-length feature films and also an inestimable number of shorter clips and segments has proliferated. All of this is to say that teachers of history today have at their disposal an indispensable resource and are perhaps more likely than ever to incorporate the visual medium of film into their respective practices.