A Teaching Tool
Pedagogical Value of Filmmaking in the Classroom for Middle Schoolers
When we talk about a better education system, what do we envision? Back in 2017, I spent a semester with the Vassar After School Tutoring program (at Poughkeepsie Middle School) with the goal of a forming a publication with all content produced by Middle-Schoolers.
Authorship—the creative process of preparing a performance or publication—is hugely generative, yet largely absent in public school education. To me, the idea of one adult teaching thirty kids is negligent, yet it's normal. A scenario where there's one adult per student seems impossible in our current paradigm; we all know that educational institutions lack proper financing. But with VAST I saw an opportunity to work with exactly that: the Vassar After School Tutoring program pairs one college student with one middle school student. The Mentor (undergrad) and Scholar (middle schooler) work together three times a week throughout a semester. With the program, we envisioned having Scholars produce scripts, rehearse scenes, set up lights, camera, etc. in an effort to make short films. It took a lot of work, but the goal was worthwhile. The process of filmmaking creates hypothetical real-life situations that allow students and teachers to grow with one another through meaningful moments; a type of engagement that is simply absent in test-taking models of education. Students need more attention and aren't finding it.
These were put together by students at VAST!
In the interest of privacy, we're not sharing the videos we created during the semester. The students all contributed great ideas for stories and we were able to bring a few of them to life.
Additional note: Improvisation classes, writing columns, and photography were also offered at VAST. They were probably more popular than the filmmaking as they were a little more immediate. Filmmaking was fun too. Creativity is endless. :)