Sharing Film and Education


This post is for IOE13 Module 2 – Why Openness in Education?

This quarter I am participating in David Wiley‘s Intro to Openness in Education course that he is teaching using the Canvas Network (Well actually, I think I am more auditing the class because it was “full”). The first module of the class asks us to think of a time where we learned using the language of sharing rather than the language of education. One of the strongest experiences that comes to mind was a Super 8mm filmmaking class that I took at Brigham Young University. The class was taught by documentary filmmaker Tim Irwin, and it has a reputation as being one of the greatest classes on campus. While there was a lot of traditional learning that happened in the class (learning about visual storytelling, lighting, and exposure) the greatest thing that I received from that class was a love of documentary film. Because actual celluloid film is a non-instantaneous medium, we would need something to do while we were waiting for our projects to get developed at the Orem Wal-Mart. During this down time, Tim would share with us some of his favorite documentary films. It was in this class that I was introduced to Michael Moore’s Roger and Me and Bennet Millers The Cruise. These films transformed my view of what a documentary could and perhaps should be. The documentary screenings weren’t specifically tied to any learning outcomes, but they had a dramatic impact on my life. As a result, I continued to seek out more documentary films, many of which changed my view of the world.

I would later share that love with an undergraduate film class that I taught as a master’s student at BYU. In this class entitled “History of Documentary and Non-Fiction film”, I was able to share some of my favorite documentary films.  These films included many of the classes that I saw in Irwin’s classes as well as a few favorites that I had picked up in the time between: Grey Gardens and Off the Charts: The Song Poem Story.  My hope was that by sharing those works, I would be able to influence the students in my class and encourage them to share the films that they love and the films that they create with others.

This process of sharing my love of documentary film is something that I continue to do.  In looking back, however, I am not always willing to freely share these films with everyone.  If I suspect that someone will mock my love of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, I will instead show them a more mainstream film instead.  Sharing requires a certain level of trust, and if done correctly, it forges a strong bond that will last through the years.  Hence why I still have such a vivid memory of the films that Tim Irwin showed me over a decade ago.

At the end of all this, I can definitely see how education is not something that should be restricted to only those who meet artificial admissions or registration requirements, but rather it should be shared with all those who have a true desire to receive.