Critical thinking and use of film in Norwegian lower secondary history classrooms
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionWagner, D.A. (2019) Critical thinking and use of film in Norwegian lower secondary history classrooms. History Education Research Journal, 16 (2), pp. 274-290. 10.18546/HERJ.16.2.08
This article examines how Norwegian social studies teachers from lower secondary schools enhance critical thinking when using film in the history classroom. We utilized empirical data from semi-structured interviews with 20 teachers from the same regional area in Norway. The article addresses several questions: What are the teachers' impressions of their students' and their own abilities to be critical towards films? Do they use film to meet competence aims in the curriculum for eighth to tenth grade? Do they use film to enhance students' critical thinking abilities? If so, how? The teachers' answers seem paradoxical. Although they mostly consider critical thinking abilities towards film to be crucial for eighth- to tenth-grade students, who usually lack them, most of the teachers did not clearly link their frequent use of film in the classroom to the development of critical historical thinking skills and dispositions, neither in their alleged goals nor in their actual practices. Although they partly recognized the empathetic value of history films and their worth for debate, the teachers generally overlooked a whole part of their potential. These results are consistent with those of other international studies. They probably bear witness to the predominance of a scientific conception of the use of history in school, rooted in epistemological beliefs that would need to be studied more closely in order to sustain perennial practice changes in the future.