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EnhanceTV :: Feature Articles :: Australian documentaries in the classroom

Australian documentaries in the classroom
Australian documentaries in the classroom 
There are a number of reasons for screening and discussing Australian documentaries as part of the secondary school curriculum, apart from simply teaching students about the form itself. Teachers can use documentaries to introduce a new unit of work, enhance student understanding of material by reinforcing particular points, provide food for thought for those needing new challenges within an
enhancement program or channel ideas for a major work requirement. Selection and the need to provide contextual and interpretative frameworks can therefore be the most demanding tasks for those educators who choose to use documentaries.

Secondary school teachers are continually reassured that a surprisingly large number of their students are avid consumers of documentary programs on Australian television. Yet, viewing this material in the classroom, brings about a set of problems pertinent to the purpose and function of a documentary film in an educational environment. A student can be intrigued and often confused by the overwhelming array of styles and interpretive avenues afforded by documentary filmmakers. Presenting students with a variety of documentary forms; educational, impressionist, observational documentaries, personal journeys, TV series and short documentary films, might assist them in understanding different styles and using diverse strategies to extract necessary information from the documentary material. Support material that can assist teachers includes research notes, a copy of the script, storyboard, interview transcripts and stills, cast and crew lists and production timelines. The working history of crew members, lists of archival material, music, the format of acquisition and finished material and the screening history of the program can also be useful.

Learning Areas Media Studies
Level Secondary, Tertiary
Price: Free

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