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Film and citizenship

Key processes

Key learning processes involved in studying citizenship include:

  • Critical thinking and enquiry
  • Advocacy and representation
  • Taking informed and responsible action

All these processes can be taught through the close study of film, particularly those involving individuals breaking, enforcing or debating the law. The processes of deconstructing a film's meaning, analysing the motivation and viewpoint of characters or questioning the intention of a filmmaker can be central to the citizenship curriculum. The conflicts and dilemmas played out in many films can form the basis of debate in the classroom, enabling young people to develop their skills of advocacy and representation as well as their understanding of key concepts such as economics, government and society. Motivated by their film studies, students can be encouraged to take their ideas about certain social problems outside of the classroom. Working with English, media and ICT departments, teachers can provide students with the tools to present their own ideas in contemporary media formats (i.e. websites, podcasts, videos). This aspect of the citizenship curriculum requires young people becoming actively involved in their communities, however widely they choose to interpret this idea. For example, students may show clips from films studied in a school assembly with a presentation outlining their ideas. They may work collaboratively to begin a web-based campaign around an issue they feel strongly about. They may liaise with a local cinema to establish a film club showing issue-driven films followed by discussion.

A selection of film-based and generic resources for citizenship teachers are featured on this page to give an idea of the different approaches possible within this curriculum area. You could also browse our Resources Library or search the site for further inspiration. We welcome your ideas and feedback.