School districts have reasonable policies regarding showing movies
Good teachers use a myriad of materials to engage students and help them learn — some of them unconventional. They wear costumes, play period music and sometimes bring in guests as a supporting cast.
But movies aren’t generally allowed for a variety of sound reasons. They can eat up a lot of valuable class time. They can be used as a babysitter. And while movies can be entertaining, they generally don’t address the day’s lesson well enough to warrant their use.
The Charleston County School District had a policy in place before a Wando High School teacher recently resigned after showing students parts of “Jackass Number Two.”
That policy states that movies are allowed to be shown only with the consent of the school’s principal. In some grades, full-length movies are disallowed. In some, they are discouraged. Principals were recently reminded of that policy.
Clearly, it’s time to underscore the district’s position. Though some teachers and parents might be unhappy to learn about the policy, it is a reasonable one. Instead of allowing movies to be shown until they become a problem, it makes sense to disallow them until a teacher demonstrates that showing a particular film, or a clip from it, will be valuable to the class. That shouldn’t be a burden to a teacher who has a well-conceived lesson plan.
And the policy shouldn’t be a deterrent to teachers with good ideas for the use of movies.
Reporter Diette Courrégé described one occasion when students from Burke and Wando high schools together watched a documentary about a Mississippi high school’s first integrated prom. Afterward, they discussed their own encounters with prejudice.
One teacher told Miss Courrégé that movies are a good way to reward a class for good work. Given that teachers say they don’t have enough classroom time as it is, it might be a stretch to justify a two-hour movie as a reward. But a principal is in the best position to decide that — and in advance.
It’s hard to imagine an instance when any of the “Jackass” movies would make the cut.
But even classic movies should be viewed in another setting — unless the course is film history.