Thinking through the Child Protagonist: Films for Critical Thinking and Creativity

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Ericka Knudson (Harvard University) NeMLA 2019
contact email: 

In today’s global society, understanding different cultures as we interact and construct our beliefs and identities has never been more important. As educators, our responsibility to guide students in developing critical thinking in their consumption of visual media is crucial to their ability to appreciate different perspectives. While teachers may recognize intuitively the power of film to expose students to other languages and cultures, examining the benefits of using it to develop students’ creativity and analytical skills can help maximize its effectiveness in the classroom. In effect, research shows that studying film through guided discussion can promote students’ critical thinking skills, leading them to becoming more open-minded adults (Morris, 2006).

In this round table, we will explore strategies for incorporating films from around the world that include the perspective of a child protagonist into course curricula. With the goal of helping students examine relevant issues and becoming knowledgeable consumers of film and media, these strategies will also promote their development of creativity. We propose child or young adult protagonists for their universality in hopes of stripping away the biases that may otherwise inherently attach to adult characters. We welcome ideas and resources such as background on films, cinematic devices, critical thinking questions, activities for small or whole group instruction, prompts for journaling, and other ways of sparking creativity. Because creativity-promoting instruction nurtures students’ emotional development and social skills, as documented by Robert J. Sternberg, leading scholar in creativity, teaching content in ways that support creativity can “develop skills that are essential for the 21st-century citizen” (cited in Starko, 2014). The goal is that by sharing strategies to examine socio-cultural codes and norms conveyed in films across nations that feature a child protagonist, teachers might better guide students to embrace a multitude of perspectives in today’s complex intersection of cultures worldwide.

We also welcome submissions for films and strategies used in foreign language classrooms.

Session: / Login: