Matters Arising Previous MEA Meeting Minutes
1. minutes of last meeting/matters arising –
minutes of the AGM were agreed. All matters arising dealt with below.
2. CFSA membership-
JP and JG attended previous CFSA events. They didn’t feel there was much to gain from our membership but it was agreed that the mea would keep the overall membership of the organisation under review.
3. Accounts for 2014 and annual report draft –
accounts were discussed for the year .Total expenditure for the year was £5,990.91 with income of £1177.36. The association has a healthy balance which will enable it to continue for a number of years at the current rate of expenditure. It was felt the email newsletter was working well with a click through rate which is high for this form of communication.
We made some minor amendments to the trustees report and then had a lengthy discussion about the value of the annual conference, given its low attendance and loss of money. We felt that a better model than the workshop-driven event might be something similar to the 2011 Manifesto event, with a theme and panels and interaction from the floor. A theme such as ‘creativity’ or ‘digital learning’ or even critiquing the ‘internet safety’ agenda might gather a diverse audience. RIBA and Tate Modern were suggested as venues. A second event for Primary was proposed in partnership with the Sheffield Children’s Media Conference and JP agreed to discuss the possibility of this with Becky Parry.
There was also some discussion of the progress of teacher networks and Philip offered to set up a South London group.
4. latest of Ofqual reforms –
PF outlined the latest on Ofqual reforms, mainly focusing on the document we prepared in support of retaining Film as a separate subject as part of the submissions which the exam boards had to make this month. We also had some discussion of the closure of subjects by exam boards, notably AQAs Communications and Culture.
5. Autumn teachmeets proposal –
PF proposed a series of ‘teachmeet’ style meetings for Sept/Oct at EMC to tie in with the new PGCE Media with English. These would feature a guest speaker (JG and JMcD have already agreed to do one each) and an invitation to partner schools and the wider MEA membership to attend, with wine and nibbles. There would be a guaranteed audience (PGCE students) and hopefully some regularity to it would bolster MEA member attendance. This was agreed.
6. AOB. There was some discussion about the progress made by Into Film and the BFI strategy.
If you’d like to contribute to his site, please e-mail him: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. and via Mark Reid at the BFI, a request for participation in research on the use of films in education:
I’m wondering if you might be able to help with a request I’ve had from a colleague in the Autonomous University of Barcelona (AUB) about some research they are leading for the FilmED consortium (www.filmedeurope.wordpress.com/consortium). The consortium is led by Jose Manuel Perez Tornero and includes AUB, the Think Tank on European Film and Film Policy, CUMEDIAE and AEDE.
They are conducting some Europe-wide research on ‘FilmEd – Showing films and other audiovisual content in European schools: Obstacles and best practices’ which aims to analyse the use of cinema and other audiovisual content in European schools, with a view to making recommendations to the European Commission.
As part of the project they want teachers and School Heads to complete an online survey. They launched the survey a number of months ago but have had a poor response rate from the UK and I believe the survey is going to close soon.
This is an engaging read as a whole book, and as Marsh points out in the foreword, it is long overdue book.
Many claims are made to the value of studying media for young people. But here Parry sets out on a very particular path to argue for the value of bringing children’s film in particular into the wider development of understanding of narrative, to make the experience of watching/making children’s films an integral part of reading and writing, indeed of literacy itself.
The first three chapters explicitly focus on the role of children’s film in children’s lives. Parry takes on board all of the arguments made against children’s films: arguments that accuse children’s films of erring on the side of happy endings (Disney’s crime), or films that refuse the difficulties in a complex narrative from a book and opt for a happy ending instead. And, she acknowledges criticisms about a lack of diversification in children’s narratives both at a text level and very obviously in the lack of opportunity for diverse points of view from those employed in the industry. In spite of all these sometimes legitimate critiques of children’s films, she still argues that “the space created by children’s films are open, complex and rich, rather than entirely closed and didactic.” (2013:31) Thus by Chapter Four, the objective of her research is clarified. She sets out to answer a crucial question of how children learn about narrative through their engagement with children’s films. She does this through a small-scale piece of qualitative research with 9-10 year olds exploring the processes involved in reading films and the way that understanding of moving image narrative could impact on understanding of narrative in print.
What much of the book is about comes from data gathered, presented and analysed from a small-scale qualitative enquiry based in a primary school in the north of England. For emerging researchers in the field, discussions about methodology, ethics and analysis of data is meticulously well presented. Parry details at length (see Chapter 5) the rationale for her approach as participatory, visual and collaborative with fine consideration given to how the young people (9-10 years) old might present, discuss and interpret their responses. Furthermore, she was eager to work in such a way that she could capture some of how film made young people feel, or act, rather than just how it made them think, a refreshing riposte to many more rationalist accounts of meaning-making.
The conclusions are rightly cautious based on a small-scale study. There is no attempt to generalise from the findings but instead to offer the findings as a way of other educators measuring their practice, or seeing the identities children present as possible identities of children they work with in other contexts.
What she does extrapolate from the research is that there are parallels to be drawn between children developing as readers of books and children becoming readers of film. Children used their understanding of children’s films as resources for talk and play at home and socially at school and Parry argues that these prior explorations of narrative should have more value in school. There is a major issue tackled here in that the “disconnect” between home literacy practices and school practices, has a negative impact on many young people’s sense of esteem and worth as well as limiting the breadth and depth of their understanding of narrative. Why does all that understanding have to be left at the classroom door?
For Parry, children’s films do exciting things for children: they put children at the centre of narrative, they draw heavily on fantasy, and make children the drivers of action. Compared with many school-based explorations of narrative, children’s film narratives are full of the joy of a central child character who takes risks, or gets into scrapes, or shows bravery whereas the narratives children are instructed to write in school are safe, neat, ordered and over-structured . In short, children’s writing of narrative rarely is allowed to make reference to the wide, rich and detailed narratives encountered in the watching histories of children. Instead writing narratives often gets lost in an imperative to include “a simile to achieve a certain level of attainment” (208). Ultimately, what Parry argues is that there is a shocking loss of opportunity in cutting off children’s social and pleasurable engagements with film texts, and not using them to build a ladder of opportunity as Protherough, argues.
In the final chapter, Parry sounds an optimistic bell for the arrival of the BFI Film Forever strategy, one strand of which has given FilmNationUK the contract for drawing up a film education programme with activities and support across the UK, available to all 27,600 schools, to cinemas, to youth organisations and community groups. I would have to challenge that laudable optimism as such a far-reaching strategy has landed in a period of education policy assault on media education more broadly.
What is worth getting on board with here – and through reading this book – is the engagement with arguments about attainment and achievement which have led current government policy to work at limiting pupils’ access to different narratives. The strength of this book is that Parry argues to draw on the extensive, expanded notion of storytelling children gain from watching films and make that impact on their conventional literacy learning.