• What do film teachers need to know about cognitivism? revisiting the work of David Bordwell and others

      Connolly, Steve M. (UCL IOE Press, 2018-11-01)
      Abstract: In the pages of the inaugural edition of this journal, the work of film pedagogue Alain Bergala was discussed as means of exploring possible approaches to film education.  While Bergala offers many reasons why young people should be taught about film, there is very little discussion in his work  of how they learn. In the subject field of education more broadly, there is currently a great deal of attention given to this process, with classroom teachers in all disciplines being encouraged to consider the ways that cognitive science might inform both instructional design and teaching itself. The popularity of the work of psychologists such as John Sweller and Daniel Willingham can be seen as indicative of a wider, positivist trend in educational research and while historically, film educators may have seen their pedagogical and curricular activities  as being located in a more linguistic, and perhaps interpretivist domain, it is important to note that there is a cognitive tradition within both Film Studies and Film education, mainly arising from the work of David Bordwell. Bordwell’s seminal essay, “The Case for Cognitivism” (Bordwell, 1989) sets out some initial reasons why both students of film and film educators should be interested in the way that the brain comprehends the moving image. Drawing on and augmenting the work of other cognitivists such as Paul Messaris and Gavriel Salomon, Bordwell’s work makes for important re-reading in an educational environment in which there is both some agreement and some scepticism about the significance of the cognitive.  This article seeks to outline and critique the most relevant of Bordwell’s arguments, taking as its starting point some unanswered questions from the author’s own PhD studies which led him to the work of both Bordwell and Messaris, and subsequently identifying some ideas which film teachers may wish to reflect upon in terms of their own classroom practice, while at the same time, fitting his work into the wider field of cognitive perspectives in education