Research-Engaged Practice Network



Learning to read movies

Seminar on 26th June 2019

Presented by Cary Bazalgatte

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 16:30-18:00
Room 9232, Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University

Studies of two-year-olds are comparatively rare. Yet the third year of life is a period of momentous change: for example learning verbal language, becoming confidently mobile, discovering how to participate in social and cultural worlds. Research that does investigate this age-group tends to focus on learning that is recognised as important in later life: speech, awareness of rules and conventions, creative play, sharing, etc. But we can infer that two-year-olds are also becoming fairly competent viewers of moving-image media because, by their fourth year, they are likely to be able to sit through a full-length feature film and follow the story, which 18-month-olds usually can’t do.

In this seminar we will consider what skills very young children need to develop in order to understand these media (let’s call them “movies”), and how they do this. The presentation will draw on evidence from a unique, 20-month study of the viewing behaviour of dizygotic girl and boy twins, gained from observation and video recordings in everyday home settings. The research challenged the dominant “risks and benefits” approach to children and media, drawing on concepts from embodied cognition to describe how emotional responses initiate focused attention, how the desire to re-view movies relates to the need for deeper comprehension, and how the presence of co-viewers and the sociocultural context may influence understanding. The implications of these insights for our approaches to later educational and cultural experiences will also be discussed.

Cary Bazalgette worked at the British Film Institute from 1979 to 2007, having previously been a teacher of English and filmmaking in London secondary schools. She has written and edited a number of classroom resources for media education and has published and spoken widely on this topic in the UK and around the world. She was Head of BFI Education from 1999-2006, leading the BFI’s commitment to developing new approaches to teaching and learning about the moving image media, particularly for the 3-14 age group, and gaining a higher profile for this area of education at national policy level. Following 18 months as the BFI’s Education Policy Adviser and as General Secretary of the 8-nation Steering Group for the European Charter for Media Literacy, she worked as a freelance researcher, writer and consultant specializing in media literacy and in children’s media, and chaired the Media Education Association. In 2018 she completed a PhD at the Institute of Education, London, on pre-school children’s encounters with moving-image media. She lives in North London and has two children and three grandchildren.

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