Philosophical Reflections from the Silver Screen: Using Films to Promote Reflection in Pre-Service Teachers

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Reflective Practice Vol. 7, No. 4, November 2006, pp. 483–497

Philosophical reflections from the silver screen: using films to promote reflection in pre-service teachers Charlene Tan*
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
hpctan@nie.edu.sg CharleneTan 0 4 700000November 2006 & Francis Original Article 1462-3943 (print)/1470-1103 ReflectiveFrancis Ltd 10.1080/14623940600987080(online) CREP_A_198609.sgm Taylor andPractice2006

This paper studies the use of four popular films (The Lord of the Rings, Dead Poets Society, The Matrix and The Simpsons) to promote philosophical reflections in pre-service teachers. Based on a study of 25 pre-service teachers in Singapore, the findings show that the teachers’ reflections fall under five main categories: (1) question and modify personal aims, beliefs, assumptions; (2) confront and solve personal and professional obstacles; (3) apply the implications to the local context; (4) consider the students’ specific educational needs, and (5) review and change personal instructional goals, methods and resources. This paper explores how the four films draw out different types of reflection in the teachers, and how the teachers’ reflections based on the films help to prepare them for the teaching profession in Singapore.

Introduction Reflection is recognized as instrumental in preparing pre-service teachers for their teaching career. However, using films to help pre-service teachers reflect on philosophical issues in education is a novel idea. This paper studies the use of four popular films (The Lord of the Rings, Dead Poets Society, The Matrix and The Simpsons) to promote reflection to a class of pre-service teachers in Singapore. A film is a series of moving pictures that has been recorded and made available for viewing. It includes all media productions such as movies, television shows, short video clips and television commercials. Through journal writing, the teachers reflected on key philosophical issues related to teaching and learning. This paper explores how the four films draw out different types of reflections in the teachers, and how the teachers’ reflections based on the films help to prepare them for the teaching profession in terms of their instructional goals, methods and resources. *National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616. Email: hpctan@nie.edu.sg ISSN 1462-3943 (print)/ISSN 1470-1103 (online)/06/040483–15 © 2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14623940600987080

484 C. Tan Review of literature Reflective practice A number of writers have pointed out the benefits of reflection for teachers (see Kottkamp, 1990; Rudney & Guillaume, 1990; Pultorack, 1993; Leahy & Corcoran, 1996; Risko et al., 2002; Florez, 2003; Pedro, 2005). Based on the writings of various researchers, five main types of reflection have been identified for pre-service teachers: 1. Question and modify personal aims, beliefs, assumptions and actions. 2. Confront and solve personal and professional obstacles. 3. Apply the implications to the local historical, social, political and cultural context. 4. Consider the students’ specific educational needs. 5. Review and change personal instructional goals, methods and resources. The first type of reflection focuses on the teacher’s self-examination of aims, beliefs, assumptions and actions (Pollard & Tann, 1987). This is premised on the belief that the teacher’s own experiences and knowledge are essential to reflection (Schön, 1983, 1987). This process of self-evaluation requires the teacher to be openminded. Dewey (1933) views open-mindedness as the freedom from prejudice, partisanship and other such habits which close the mind, and the willingness to consider multiple or novel ideas. Secondly, the teacher should be able to confront and solve his or her personal and professional obstacles. This is linked to Dewey’s (1933) idea of whole-heartedness which refers to the genuine enthusiasm to channel...
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