MEDIA IN ACTION CONFERENCE

WELCOMING SPEECH

Ioannis Pantis, Secretary General

Ministry of Education, Research and Religion

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, good morning. It’s the second year I’m here, not by accident, but because I believe that the Ministry of Education ought to point to the direction we must follow in education, to do the necessary changes and to support the synergy to achieve positive things in education.

 In a country where digital literacy is still not completed, the Ministry of Education declares that this must be the year of digital literacy in second as well as third level education.

 Media is part of our lives so they must become a central part of education since there can’t be education in our times that doesn’t consider the use of audiovisual means. There cannot be education without the use the entirety of the audiovisual production that exists and circulates freely in the world and, to take it a step further, there cannot be education that can’t produce its own audiovisual material after having used the aforementioned material. In the education system, all of us must create these activities, structures, to support these kind of programs that give the opportunity to a suffocating educational system to find the cracks through which all these new things will come out of. We must use of these means if we want to change the way schools work. Last year, in this exact place, we discussed first level education, this year we are talking about first but also second year education, which means we’ve been doing well, which in turn means we can do even better. The only film department in the university level in Greece is located here – let’s work together. The university, the Municipality, you and the Ministry of Education – let’s work together. We’re waiting for more suggestions – suggest more things to us in the Ministry and we will always be here to help you achieve all that will lead to the next day, no matter how the next day might have hardships or not. But if we don’t chart the way, we won’t ever go forward. The first step can be done and we want to work with you so we can all take that step together and lead the way to the improvement – I’ll say it again – of audiovisual literacy.

SPEACHES

Digital storytelling as an educational tool developing pupils’ media and intercultural competences

Katarzyna Czekaj-Kotynia, PH.D.

University of Social Sciences

Introduction

Digital storytelling (DST) in a field of education is a very interesting phenomenon. It uses didactic tools and pedagogical methods very well known for centuries (narratives, stories, story creations) and combines them with modern technologies. By engaging audio and video, animations, graphics as a building materials of the story and using the Internet as a channel for broadcasting and disseminating the stories to the public, digital storytelling creates a completely new teaching and learning strategy, targeted towards the comprehensive development of the knowledge and skills of students regardless of their ages.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the specific use of digital storytelling in the development of intercultural and media competencies of primary and lower secondary school pupils. Paying attention to the significance and the importance of developing these particular areas of pupils’ skills is crucial in the context of the challenges facing European schools in the era of intensifying migration and the growing presence of children with immigrant background in the scholar system, that can be observed virtually in every country of the European Union.

The article presents both theoretical considerations concerning the application of the digital storytelling method in media and intercultural education, as well as the case study of a selected project that realizes in practice the postulate of implementation of this method in the didactic workshop of teachers working with pupils from immigrant families.

Key definitions

Taking into account the definition of Alexander Thomas, intercultural competence can be defined as the ability to understand cultural determinants and factors affecting perception, appreciation, feeling and acting. It is also the ability to respect and use them effectively. It manifests itself in a variety of attitudes, from the tolerance towards differences, to successful patterns of cooperation and coexistence, with respect to the criteria for interpreting and shaping the world[1]. Analyzing the intercultural competence, the most important elements can be identified as[2]:

  • specific information regarding the foreign reality;
  • the ability to independently analyze and reflect on the surrounding reality related to own culture and to the foreign reality;
  • ability to interpret a foreign culture for background of own culture and own culture for background of foreign cultures;
  • the ability to analyze one’s own attitudes and expressions of cultural behavioral patterns, ie perceiving oneself and others in the context of cognitive constructs that are culturally conditioned;
  • ability to identify misunderstandings and ability to resolve difficult situations;
  • the ability to expand one’s own knowledge through conscious approach to cultural diversity.

In view of the diversity of scientific studies and methodological perspectives, it is considerably more difficult to define the exact scope of media competences.

However, following the recommendations of the European Commission[3] and the analyzes of the Modern Poland Foundation[4], it is possible to identify the key areas of skills that comprise the media competences:

  • effective use of information resources (diagnosis of information gaps, selection of information sources, search for reliable content and their critical analysis, as well as processing of information and presentation of work results to audience);
  • building a safe and valuable relationships and communication in a virtual environment, finding contacts, participating in virtual communities, shaping own image on the Web;
  • knowledge and understanding of the specific media messages expressed in various of audiovisual forms;
  • creative creation of multimedia content with the use of modern digital tools and with awareness of issues related to copyright;
  • exploiting the potential of media for entertainment, access to culture, intercultural dialogue, learning and daily-life applications.

It is worth emphasizing that in the age of globalization (which encompasses practically all areas of human activity, including economy, labor market, culture) and the growing mobility of societies, only parallel development of both above mentioned areas of competence (intercultural and media) determines the effective participation of individuals in modern social, economic and cultural reality. As the investigators point out: „thanks to globalization and technological progress specific areas of cultural overlap, interact. As a result of this relationships, interactions, content flow, but also collisions and conflicts they inevitably become intercultural. Understanding this cultural and social reality and active participation in it requires the ability to communicate, critically accept and evaluate information, to recognize the cultural, religious, ethnic, racial perspectives in the perception of phenomena and problems[5]”. Inevitably, the lack of competence mentioned above may result in the risk of social and cultural exclusion. This justifies the need for a broad integration of programs, contents, methods and tools that develop in a coherent manner all the areas of pupils’ knowledge and skills listed above into the school curriculum.

Methodical approach to the application of digital storytelling  in intercultural and media education

Digital storytelling can be used both as a method and as an educational tool aimed at supporting the development of intercultural and media literacy among pupils, both in the teaching and active learning of students at various stages of formal and informal education. Digital storytelling can provide instructional content that helps pupils gain information and acquire knowledge they need to shape their openness and cultural tolerance. But digital storytelling can also be seen as an effective tool for the practical implementation of the most popular and widespread methods of intercultural education and media education.

In the first of contexts indicated above, digital storytelling can be use in development of pupil’s key competences in the three most important areas identified by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)[6]:

  1. using tools for interacting with the environment (in terms of: information, technology, language);
  2. interacting in heterogeneous groups;
  3. situating own life in the broader social context.

What is very important, it can be very precisely identified how each of these groups of competencies is developed through the use of digital storytelling in the teaching and learning process.

In the context of using tools for interacting with the environment by DST project we can easily teach our pupils how to collaborate with peers, parents, community; how to use the multimedia content and ICT (information and communication technologies) tools; how to create multilingual stories or stories using elements of many languages. The factors conducive to learning these skills lie in the specifics, forms of work and tasks that an educational project focused on building a digital stories imposes on the pupils. It obligates pupils to work in teams, to communicate, to search contacts, also among people using different languages. Digital storytelling  also obligates pupils to create narrations that would be understandable and convincing for various types of audiences. At the same time pupils develop media skills working with information, Internet, multimedia content[7]. What is the most important for multicultural approach, they can work in their native language, as well as in any chosen foreign language, even when their skills in this area are not very high.

Considering the issue of interacting in heterogeneous groups it should be noted that digital storytelling may become for a pupils an educational environment where they can communicate with peers, parents and representatives of communities with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. By cooperating with co-authors of the stories and other persons involved in the projects, solving problems together, pupils also explore differences and similarities between languages and cultures.

A digital storytelling project can be also a natural opportunity to teach pupils how to situate own life in wide social and cultural context[8]. This is possible due to the fact that creating and sharing stories, discussing about stories (especially in a global environment of the Internet, where geographical or language boundaries do not exist) obligates pupils to confront opinions, beliefs, stereotypes about different cultures and to analyze their own multicultural experience.

By involving pupils’ cognitive affective and psychomotor domains and adopting a constructive approach to knowledge and skill development, digital storytelling is an effective way to support the learning process[9]. Using this method:

  • pupil has the ability to organize and understand the world through stories which concern the problems faced by society;
  • pupil and its relations with peers and communities is in the center of attention, and in the center of creation process;
  • pupil may develop an attitude of responsibility – as an author of the project and as a representative of the local community responsible for relationships with other groups with different backgrounds;
  • pupil may build self-sense of efficacy by involvement in a projects having a real impact on the relations existing in social environment of school;
  • pupils may develop an attitude that respects the uniqueness and diversity by confronting their opinions and exchange of experience.

On the other hand digital storytelling supports an innovative teaching process. It is a form of teaching that guarantee the joy of discovering, high motivation and enthusiasm. It gives pupils freedom in terms of:

  • using tools, materials, contents that are attractive to them;
  • taking up topics that are important to them;
  • creating projects that bring them appreciation;
  • gaining an experiences that build a sense of belonging and acceptance.

It is worth noticing, that this situation translates directly to increase in pupil’s school achievements. The teaching implementing these proposals falls directly into the concept of brain-friendly learning and is linked to the currently developing neurodidactics strategy. The basic assumption of neurodidactics indicates that when pupils acquire knowledge and skills in an attractive, interesting, engaging, and above all, active way, their ability to memorize and understand the teaching material increases automatically[10].

In a context of multilingual and multicultural education, digital storytelling can derive from a variety of threads, motifs and content that can be the starting point or pretext for reflections on diversity and similarities, relations and relationships, conflicts and encounters between cultures, peoples, languages. To design educational activities based on digital storytelling teachers can use contents that can be classified into three categories:

  1. Personal stories about specific life events or experiences: pupil’s stories on their own meeting with other languages, cultures, countries; pupil’s interviews with their peers from other countries, cultures; family stories concerning the origin, roots, traditions.
  2. Stories that inform or instruct and help pupils to understand a certain topic better: stories regarding to an issue of multilingualism, multiculturalism; stories about the problems and phenomena common to different cultures, societies and languages: alphabets, proverbs and sayings, the meaning of names, linguistic loans, false friends, ect.
  3. Stories using intercultural topics, characters, storylines, like for ex.: different versions of the stories of Cinderella, Snow Queen, ect.; common motifs that appear in the stories: journey, transformation or forbidden love; different concepts of good and evil.

By this kind of digital stories pupils learn and understand better the differences and similarities between cultures and languages, learn how to speak about their own culture and roots, awaken curiosity about other cultures and linguistic circles. At the same time, this knowledge is not a stranger or distant for them, but it comes from own experiences or from the history of their friends and colleagues.

Although digital storytelling can successfully function as a separate teaching and learning method, it is also useful as addition to a didactical technique or tool complementary to other methods known and commonly used to promote intercultural and media competence[11].

In the method of working with sources, creating a digital story can be the final result of a process in which a pupil collects, analyzes, verifies, selects and processes multimedia materials on a specific subject (memories, relationships, photographs, recordings).

Working with the method of searching for common roots (focused on demonstrating the mutual relations among the states, nations, people, languages) pupils can use digital storytelling to create a tale about people, groups, communities – in different time periods and at different stages of their functioning.

In the method of cultural routes, a digital story can successfully become a way to convey experiences, emotions, reflections, and conclusions resulting from a discovered pathway (a pupil may play the role of a person who present the cultural path or the traveler himself).

In the method of searching for contemporary relations, the digital history created by the pupils may be related to the understanding of relationships between countries, people, economies, cultures. Relationships that gradually increase with globalization and affect the lives of individuals, families and communities.

The digital story can also provide a starting point (deliver a content) for problem solving method, referring especially to diversity, tolerance, exclusion, hate ect. In such a case, initiating pupils’ work by familiarizing them with emotionally engaging story that also stimulate their the imagination, may directly affect pupils’ motivation for activity and involvement in the performed task.

Digital storytelling is also an ideal tool for building methods of cooperation. Pupils from different countries, different nationalities, speaking different languages can work together on the creation of digital story, using Internet as a space of communication and common actions. Digital storytelling  provides an excellent framework for pupils because it enables confrontation, builds engagement and motivation, is a platform for confronting national and cultural perspectives.

In the method of search for scenarios of the future, digital stories are the perfect material for presenting and analyzing past experiences, presenting current situation and predicting scenarios for the future on the basis of knowledge and possible consequences of current actions.

Diagnosis of the teachers’ needs in the context of the use of digital storytelling for intercultural education

Although digital storytelling can have such wide application in the process of supporting the development of intercultural competence of pupils and their media skills, studies (particularly those conducted with the participation of teachers that work in groups culturally diverse), indicate that teachers are still not fully prepared for the tasks of this area[12]. It turns out that working with pupils with a variety of ethnic, cultural or linguistic backgrounds does not translate into greater intercultural sensitivity of teachers. In the light of the research results, teachers problems are typically: poor language skills, low cultural competence, lack of knowledge of migration, low level of openness, patience, empathy, tolerance, low awareness of the importance of cultural determinants as a source of problems in working with children and their parents. Building cooperation with parents and keepers of pupils from diverse ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds is also the area of difficulty for surveyed teachers[13].

Programs that support teachers in integrating the media into multicultural education – case study

In the context of presented information, it is advisable to develop programs that support teachers in the process of incorporating innovative methods such as digital storytelling into their didactic work in the field of multicultural and media education. An example of such a program might be project: Valuing All Languages to Unlock Europe (VALUE project)[14]. Project was created in an international environment of partners from 5 countries: Greece, Spain, Poland, Germany and Italy. The most important goals of the project were defined as:

  • develop, adapt and transfer in classes an innovative model od multilingual and multicultural education through technologies and digital media, with particular emphasis on digital storytelling;
  • contribute to the professional development of teachers through the implementation of a training course on digital skills applied to intercultural and multilingual didactic;
  • develop innovative and personalized pedagogical approaches to promote educational success of students with migratory background giving regard to cultural and linguistic diversities and the development of transversal competences through digital media;
  • promote positive interaction and active participation of foreign families in the education context of the hosting society giving references to the different linguistic and cultural heritages.

The project is directed to the teachers of primary / lower secondary schools and language teachers, educators, pupils of primary and lower secondary schools, language schools, participants of workshops and courses focused on development of language, media and intercultural skills. As a part of the project, teachers were invited to participate in the complementary course on multilingual education and the use of digital storytelling in that context. Teachers were also provided with didactic materials helping them to integrate modern technologies into multicultural education and to use digital storytelling as a method of work with pupils. A part of the didactic materials was a set of activities developing pupil’s multilingual and multicultural skills on the basis of multimedia tools. Because the important goal of the project is to increase participation of pupil’s families in the school community, the content included in the training course and in the materials for the teachers emphasize very clearly the issue of including parents and representatives of pupil’s community in digital storytelling projects on the two ways: as a characters of created digital stories and as co-creators of the projects. The training process is accompanied by the presence of facilitators who provide substantive support to participants and help in case of problems.

Conclusions

In reality dominated by phenomena of globalization and technological revolution an essential condition for preparing children and youth to effective social and cultural participation is the parallel learning and development of pupils’ intercultural and media competence, in the educational systems of all European countries. Digital storytelling as a method and didactical tool for teaching and learning processes can be an effective way of supporting these competencies.

Digital storytelling is a method that can be applied in the context of any group of pupils. It helps to provide knowledge about other languages and cultures. By referring to authentic experiences, biographies, showing relationships between people, engaging emotions, it builds a genuine understanding of the theme of multiculturalism, shapes cultural sensitivity, empathy. What is more, the involvement of modern digital tools is an excellent training ground for developing digital and informative skills for pupils.

The prerequisite for the effective use of presented method in education and its application in the field of media and multicultural skills development is the factual and didactic preparation of teachers for conducting such activities. Support programs targeted to teachers should take into account both the component of knowledge, providing: theoretical information regarding to multiculturalism and effective tools for this kind of education, and practical component, encouraging teachers to apply new methods and tools in their work with pupils by providing them with inspiration, ideas, lesson plans. An essential element of these programs should be development of teacher’s awareness and practical skills to build cooperation in the multicultural environment of pupils, parents and the local community.

A holistic approach to the development of pupils’ competence in the field of media and multiculturalism can be an effective remedy for the issue of the threat of social and cultural exclusion, especially for pupils with different ethnic, national or linguistic backgrounds.

[1] Za: Dydaktyka języków obcych a kompetencja kulturowa i komunikacja interkulturowa (Didactics of foreign languages in context of cultural competence and intercultural communication), red. M. Mackiewicz, p. 40.

[2] Ibidem, p. 34.

[3] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52007DC0833&from=PL (acsess: 01.04.2017).

[4] Cyfrowa Przyszłość, Katalog Kompetencji medialnych i informacyjnych (Digital Future, Catalog of Media and Information Competence), red. D. Górecka, https://nowoczesnapolska.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Cyfrowa-Przyszlosc-Katalog-Kompetencji-Medialnych-i-Informacyjnych1.pdf, (access: 01.04.2017).

[5] S.  Jaskuła, L. Korpowicz, Wykluczenie w międzykulturowej przestrzeni informacyjnej (Exclusion in the intercultural information space) [in:] Pedagogika międzykulturowa wobec wykluczenia społecznego i edukacyjnego (Intercultural pedagogy against social and educational exclusion), red. T. Lewowicki, A. Szczurek-Boruta, J.  Suchodolska, Toruń 2011, p. 149.

[6] The definition and selection of key competencies, OECD, https://www.oecd.org/pisa/35070367.pdf (access: 02.04.2017).

[7] A. Świątecka, Digital storytelling. Podręcznik dla edukatorów (Digital storytelling. Manual for educators), Warszawa 2013, Fundacja Ad hoc, p. 21.

[8] J. Lambert, Digital storytelling cookbook, Center for digital storytelling, 2010, p. 3-8.

[9] Z. Osiński, Internet jako efektywna przestrzeń edukacyjna (Internet as an effective educational space), E-mentor nr 5 (52) / 2013; A. Świątecka, Digital storytelling. Podręcznik dla edukatorów (Digital storytelling. Manual for educators), Warszawa 2013, Fundacja Ad hoc, s. 21.

[10] M. Żylińska, Neurodydaktyka (Neurodidactics), Toruń 2013.

[11] T. Michalewski, Wybrane metody pracy nauczyciela w kontekście edukacji wielokulturowej (Selected methods of teacher’s work in the context of multicultural education) [in:] Szkoła i nauczyciele wobec problemów edukacji międzykulturowej (School and teachers in face of the problems of intercultural education), red. Z. Jasiński, Opole 2010, p. 132-133; M. Sielatycki, Metody nauczania w edukacji międzykulturowej (Teaching methods for intercultural education) [in:] Edukacja międzykulturowa (Intercultural education), Centralny Ośrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli, Warszawa 2004,  p. 31-34.

[12] The described results concern a study carried out by the Polish Center for Education Development in 2009 y. in primary schools, junior high schools and high schools.

[13] K. M. Błeszyńska, Dzieci imigrantów i uchodźców jako grupa zagrożona wykluczeniem edukacyjnym (Children of immigrants and refugees as a group at risk of educational exclusion) [in:] Pedagogika międzykulturowa wobec wykluczenia społecznego i edukacyjnego (Intercultural pedagogy against social and educational exclusion), red. T. Lewowicki, A. Szczurek-Boruta, J.  Suchodolska, Toruń 2011, p. 186.

[14] More information on a project website: www.valuemultilingualism.org.

Motivating Sensations, Skills and Smiles: The Film Vault and Student Film Project Experience

Delidaki Eirini

Film Educator at Thessaloniki Cinema Museum, Project Manager of Euforia in Greece, Phd Candidate in Cultural Technology and Communication, University of Aegean

Introduction

Many pedagogy scholars, such as Freire (1978), Perkins (1994), and Mezirow (2009), have experimented with the sensory experience and highlighted the importance of its inclusion in  school educational procedures, in an effort to approach the learning process from a different angle than the existing ones.

It is a well-known fact that the dialogue between the child and the image usually evolves into a personal relationship. The combination of didactics and film, painting or any other form of multimodal text creates a distinct dynamics in the classroom, as it facilitates brainstorming, free emotional expression and spontaneous externalization of the students’ thoughts. The children borrow elements from the visual world, adapt them into the needs of their everyday life, and endorse them; they utilize these elements not only to gain the knowledge and joy of creativity, but also to add them to the list of their existing experiences (Nikonanou 2015).

In this ambience, a new kind of education – namely the training of the gaze – emerges. This kind of education will help the students decipher and read the secrets of the moving image, and consequently equip them with the necessary supplies for the more beneficial use of digital media (Kokkos et al. 2011).

In this context, questions such as whether the school classroom can directly interact with the film theatre, how can the learning process join hands with the filmic process, how can an educator follow alternative teaching methods and knowledge transmission, were found in the research focus of the first phase of the European program Euforia (Aggelidi & al., 2016).

  

  1. 1. FILM VAULT: The Euforia Educational Tool

During this wandering through film paths, the scientific committee of Euforia set as a primary goal to provide the teachers certain methods of utilization and gradual inclusion of the seventh art in the school curriculum. For this reason, the team proceeded in the launch of the educational website Film Vault, through which educators have the opportunity to learn the foundations of film literacy, as well as certain mechanisms of introducing these foundations in the classroom environment.

The educational material of the Film Vault website is based on three main axes:

  • Films
  • Collections
  • Student Projects

More specifically, the menu option Films includes 90 titles from the Greek, Polish, and Hungarian film production. Each title has been associated with the school curriculum, it refers to particular facets of social reality and is connected with the appropriate age groups. Their selection was made complete after systematic research and study. Moreover, the school curricula of the majority of other European countries were extensively studied, to detect common reference points, and make sure that the films suggested can respond to the needs of as many teachers that are active inside and outside of the country as possible. Also, the local film production of three different countries (Greece, Hungary, and Poland) was put in priority, so as to promote the work of certain filmmakers and encourage the students to explore their work and trace their commonalities and differences (Andriopoulou 2010).

Taking into account that an average two-hour feature film cannot be easily integrated into the daily schedule of Junior High and Senior High students, the educational content material was configured on the basis of film clips. Each clip is connected with the age group, the film course, but also the theme that each educator would like to work with, depending on his educational goals.  For instance, the clip from the film Glory Sky by Takis Kanellopoulos is connected with the History course of the Third Grade of Junior High, it focuses on the Albanian Front as a subject matter and has love as a reference point; in terms of film language, it constitutes an example of ideological montage (Taylor 2000).

By all means, the suggested clips where selected because they representive according to criteria of plot (they refer to crucial points of the narrative) or form (they are typical of a particular film style). It is a matter of fact that a carefully designed screening can give the viewer the possibility to draw associations and connect events within an accurate chronological, histrorical and socio-cultural context, even if it this screening is fragmentary (Buckingham, 2013).

Thirty of these films are accompanied by the respective educational kit, which contains three different documents:

  • The General Guide, which contains basic information regarding the external features of a film (such as title, synopsis, genre, duration, technique, contributors, director’s biography/filmography, topic, production country, color)
  • The Activities Guide, which contains teaching scripts and worksheets that are always associated with the school curriculum, and
  • The Teacher’s Guide, which contains supplementary material, such as bibliographical references, articles, interviews, and other information that can lead to a more complete understanding and reading of the film selection.

In broad strokes, the Activities are diverse and can be applied inside and outside the classroom. They include observation and motivation questions, next to guidelines for the shooting of a short film, etc. This guide was created through the synthesis of material that draws on the film’s historiography and film theories alike. The suggested worksheets have as a starting point certain comprehension questions on the film’s topic, plot, central characters and structural elements (the unit under the title “observe”). These questions can reinforce the interpretation of significant historical events, activate the students’ reasoning, and help them develop analytical/critical thinking skills.

Other activities examine the director’s choices by analyzing the ‘inner’ features of a film (plot, cinematography, music, style, composition), while prompting the students to trace the author’s motivation and messages. For example, the activity “Evaluate” contributes to the understanding of the final result through a selection of reviews. The activity “Get to Work” gives the students the opportunity to understand the challenges of a film shooting, as they are called to undertake specific roles and responsibilities, associate the film with particular socio-historical connotations. In this way, the school curriculum becomes more interactive and attractive (Kokkos et al, 2011).

Additionally, the project introduced a series of manuals for general use, which were divided in four sections: a. camera user manual, b. how to write a script, c. the secret art of editing, and d. cinematography tips. This unit aimed at getting the students  cquainted with the filmic process, and particularly with the special characteristics of the language of film. In these manuals, terminology such as: close up, match cut, plan general, plan americain, plongée, contre-plongée was anthologized, analyzed and correlated not only with clarifying notes, but also with suggested activities that can be deployed by the educators in whichever screening they wish, be they part of the Film Vault or not.

The last part of the educational content material is the Collections. The primary scope of this unit is the examination of the way in which a topic was presented over the years. Therefore, this list features films that deal with the same topic, but were made in different time junctures and through the lens of different filmmakers. For instance, the relationship between different genders can be examined in Michael Cacoyannis’ Stella, as compared to Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida. The contact with the feeling of the era, the process of historical knowledge acquisition and the comparison of different circumstances poses a series of questions in a palpable and direct way.

In a nutshell, Film Vault gives the educators the opportunity to browse through the list of films, pinpoint the subject matter and the age group that is of interest to them, present a film clip and make good use of the educational content material provided. The website will be dynamic, in order to constantly renew its educational content material – which will soon be available in four different languages. Other than the fact that this material can offer useful approaches, it can easily be adjusted to serve the needs of the class, depending on the each teacher’s schedule and educational goals, thus it can work on a group level, but also in a personalized manner (Barrance 2010).

The design and editing of the educational guides were undertaken by the Educational Programs Department of the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum, which is staffed by museologists, filmmakers, and pedagogues are specialized in film literacy. In the collection of the content material, the contribution of the educational guides by the Hungarian cultural institution Laterna Magica and certainly by the scientific commitee of the Film & the Audiovisual Arts School of Warsaw University Spoleczna Akademia Nauk – SAN was of crucial importance.

 

  1. The Student Film Project Experience

One of the most important actions of the Euforia European Program is the creation of a short documentary series in the framework of the program Film Paths II, by secondary school students of the three partnership countries. Resonating with the European scope of the program, the students walked through alleys, neighbourhoods, buildings, and monuments, and captured with a handheld camera the past and present transformations of the urban landscape by the European funding schemes. The goal was the creation of a 7-10 minute documentary that would focus on the following questions: How did the selected infrastructure’s re-negotiation of space affect the city’s every-day life and urban culture? Did the given infrastructure aesthetically upgrade urban landscape? Did it improve cultural services offered to both locals and visitors? Did the given infrastructure improve or afflict local economy? Did it create new working positions? (European Commission, Urban development  http://ec.europa.eu/).

The team of the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum was in charge of 12 productions that were set in Thessaloniki and beyond. Many schools applied for the program, but the selection of the final participants was based on the teachers’ former experience in similar projects or on their possible familiarity with film education. At the same time, it was important to grant opportunities to schools located in the country’s periphery, as the students don’t have access to this kind of activities very often, but also to Second Chance Schools and Night Schools. More specifically, five schools from Thessaloniki, one from Katerini, one from Agrinio, one from Lamia, one from Livadia and two from Athens (125 students in total) participated.

The implementation stages of this action were thoroughly defined. Firstly, the teacher in charge formed his/her film crew with 7–15 students. The students started their research in order to select the infrastructure they would like to investigate and proceed to research part (selection of interviews, acquiring access permission, etc.). Each group was appointed to a group of film experts, who would familiarize the students with the terminology and technique of documentary filmmaking, and discuss the angle of each project. During these activities, the students not only took part in the production of the film, but also participated in the post-production stage, in the processing and editing of the material. Τhe role of the experts during the stages of script development, directing and post-production was limited to the general guidance and supervision, thus allowing the children to find a personal space for expression and creation. The shootings usually lasted one to three days per team.

This exceptional experience culminated in the awards ceremony that took place in Thessaloniki, at Ciné Stavros Tornes on 19/11/2016, in the 1st Student Documentary Festival “Euforia”. The competition program comprised 24 documentaried that were shoot in all three countries. The Jury (Valerie Kontakos, Producer-Director, Exile Room; Marco Gastine, Director-Producer; Grigoris Paschalidis, Associate Professor, School of Journalism & Mass Communications, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; Kamila Żyto, Adjunct Professor, Department of Media and Audiovisual Arts, University of Łódź; Ferenc Biro, Educational Expert) awarded seven (7) projects – one Best Documentary Award and three honorary mentions. Jury Winner: Sea Garden, Greece. National Winners: Modern Lowicz Girl (Poland), Budapest for the Little Ones and the Grown-ups (Hungary), Sunday in Monastiraki 2 (Greece). Special Mentions: Rotunda (GR), Magic Wardrobe (HU), The Princess (PO).

A first assessment of the participants’ feedback proves that the educators and students that took part in the Student Digital Film Project were impressed by the overall experience. They all highlighted the chance they had to get acquainted with cinema’s means of expression, to get to know their city through the camera lens, but also to develop their personalities and unlock skills they haven’t yet discovered (operating a camera, creative writing, and more).

The comments that were posted on Facebook during the shooting period and after the student Festival are telling:“We wish to thank once more the people of the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum who gave us the opportunity to participate in such a creative program and realize the pedagogical value of team work, both as makers and members of the audience. We hope that these kinds of programmes will become part of the agenda and will be further supported. (Dimitri Charitopoulos, Superivisor School Teacher of Kontariotissa High School, Katerini). “Thank you! We are very lucky our students are so gifted, but we are also unlucky because cinema and documentary are not separate courses, but occasional, scarce activities” (Georgia Lymperopoulou, Supervisor School Teacher of Neoi Epivates Junior High School, Thessaloniki). Statements like the above became the driving force of the project, in spite of the harsh times.

Moreover, according to modern educational psychology, the greatest advantage of such a hands-on approach is the possibility to acquite a direct personal experience. The environment of a film shooting provided unique opportunities for an encounter with something totally authentic – equipment, a film crew – and hopefully made the overall experience unforgettable.

Through usage, the comprehension of an image’s meaning, the aesthetic pleasure and the processes of gaming and creative expression in which they participated, the children developed their kinesthetic skills and became involved in procedures that engaged many aspects of their personality (cognitive, social, aesthetic, and emotional) at the same time. Haris stated that this is exactly what he wants to do in life, Crissoula shot praisworthy takes, Kimonas feels proud about his participation to the festival, Sokol is looking for a way to study film directing. All in all, Euphoria aspired to prove that the filmic experience is a dynamic, multi-faceted, aesthetic experience, which not only reflects the socio-psychological context, but also enables its configuration.

Bibliography

[In Greek]

Andriopoulou, Ε. (2010). “I kinimatographiki paideia stin ekpaideusi – Montela leitourgias kai prokliseis (Η κινηματογραφική παιδεία στην εκπαίδευση – Μοντέλα λειτουργίας και προκλήσεις)”. Syhnotities, Periodiko ΙΟΜ: Τεύχος 10, Athens, 15.

Kokkos A. et al (2011). Ekpaideysi mesa apo tis Tehnes (Εκπαίδευση μέσα από τις Τέχνες). Athens: Metaihmio.

Nikonanou, Ν. (2015α), “Mouseia kai typiki Ekpaideysi” («Μουσεία και τυπική εκπαίδευση»), in N. Nikonanou, A. Bounia, A. Filippoupoliti, Ν. Yannoutsou Mousiaki mathisi kai empeiria ston 21o aiona (Μουσειακή μάθηση και εμπειρία στον 21ο αιώνα) [e-book] Athens: Greek Academic Libraries Association, 87–109. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11419/712

[In English]

Barrance, T. “Using Film in Schools: A Practical Guide.” Film: 21st Century Literacy. Ed. Nikki Christie, UK Film Council, Adam Cooper, Film: 21st Century Literacy, Elizabeth Crump, Partnerships for Schools Mark Higham, FILMCLUB, 2010, www.filmeducation.org/pdf/misc/C21_Using_film_in_schools.pdf.

Buckingham, D. Media education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Mezirow, J., Taylor, E. W. ,& Associates (2009). Tranfomative Learning in Practice:  Insights from Community, Workplace and HigherEeducation, San Francisco: Jossey – Bass, 3–17.

Perkins, D. (1994). The Intelligent Eye. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Taylor, K. (2000). Teaching with Developmental Intention. In Mezirow, J. and Associates, Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 151-180.

[In French]

Freire, P. (1978). Lettres à la Guinée – Bissau sur l’ alphabétisation [Letters to Guinea– Bissau on Literacy]. Paris: Maspero.

[Websites]

Angelidi, A., Aletras, N. Walden, R. Kalampakas V., Mouzaki D. (Working Group for Audiovisual Education 27/05/2016), “Optikoajoustiki ekpaideysi” («Οπτικοακουστική Εκπαίδευση»), in National and Social Dialogue for Education Committee (Proceedings). http://dialogos.minedu.gov.gr/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/PORISMATA_DIALOGOU_2016.pdf. Accessed at 10/11/2017

European Commission, Urban development http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/urban-development/

Narrative Persuasion: Notes on Theoretical and Methodological Issues

Antonis Gardikiotis

School of Journalism and Mass Media,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Why Study Narratives?

Stories and narratives are a central part of human experience. From early on in life, we read books, watch television and films, and these kinds of narrative experiences not only amuse us but also affect our understanding of the world around us, as well as, of ourselves. In order to understand narrative influence, a number of relevant questions should be answered: How can these narratives affect our way of thinking? When and how do we agree with the messages embedded in a story? And which are the psychological processes that enable such influence? The present paper, following a psychological approach, examines the persuasive power of narratives. Its main goal is to review the literature on narrative influence on beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. It especially focuses on the psychological processes underlying narrative influence.

            Why is important to examine narrative influence? Examining the influence of stories is important in order to understand wanted or unwanted persuasion (Green, Garst, & Brock, 2004): First, narratives are sometimes used to persuade the audience, as, when, for example, producers of television series present members of a minority group (e.g. Black or gay people) in a positive way so that these representations could lead to decreased stereotyping and prejudice toward these groups (Igartua 2010; Müller, 2009; Ortiz & Harwood, 2007). Another example of purposeful use of narrative and stories with the goal to provide new information and persuade, is when educators use entertainment-education (i.e. prosocial messages embedded into popular entertainment media content) to teach children healthy behaviors (Singhal, Cody, Rogers, & Sabido, 2004). Second, it is important to examine narratives for the cases that false or harmful information reaches and persuades recipients of a story. Such cases would be, when unhealthy behaviors (e.g. smoking, drug use) are presented in a positive way or as normative in a film, or when racist and hate discourse is employed to defame social groups.

Definition of Narratives

What do we mean when we talk about narratives? Narratives are defined as “the symbolic representation of an event or a series of events” (Abbott, 2002, p. 12). These events may concern human experiences (i.e., everything that a person may experience in his or her lifetime), interpersonal relations (e.g. love in a romantic story), problem solving (e.g. survival under life threatening conditions in an action drama, or providing a solution to a mystery in a thriller), and conflict (e.g. fight between groups or individuals in a western or a historic film) (Ryan, 2007). Fundamental elements of a narrative are the protagonists who are (explicitly or implicitly) present and follow a plot line as the narrative unfolds. These characteristics can be found in stories presented in various formats and genres, in traditional media (e.g., feature films, novels, television drama etc.) or new media (e.g. digital storytelling), and are easily recognizable by anyone who has read a book or watched a film.

Narratives have been usually conceptualized in contrast to argumentation, that is, the ordering of claims and evidence linked by logical coherence in support of a position (Ryan, 2007). The social psychological research that mainly focuses on persuasive processes has largely examined argumentation or advocacy messages, for example, advertising, political speeches, health campaigns, propaganda etc. (McGuire, 1986). The scientific literature that examines the persuasive powers of argumentation is vast (see for example the review of Petty & Wegener, 1998), whereas the examination of narrative persuasion has only recently gained researchers’ attention (Green, Strange, & Brock, 2002). However, as Bilandzic and Busselle (2013) argue, although the distinction between argumentation and narrative is heuristically useful, it does not take into account that, more often than not, narratives and arguments combine and merge. So, a narrative may contain persuasive arguments (e.g. a protagonist of a film may explicitly support a clear political stance), while, on the other hand, an argument may contain narrative elements (e.g. a health campaign may present the story of a patient). Notwithstanding their combination, studies have explicitly compared narrative and argumentative messages and found that in some cases the former can be more influential than the latter (e.g. Strange & Leung, 1999). This evidence brings on the next question of what is narrative persuasion and how effective can it be?

Narrative Persuasion

Narrative persuasion can be defined as ‘any influence on beliefs, attitudes, or actions brought about by a narrative message through processes associated with narrative comprehension and engagement’ (Bilandzic & Busselle, 2013, p. 171). Research has shown that reading, or listening to, a narrative can form or change beliefs about the world (e.g., Fazio & Marsh, 2008; Green & Brock, 2000; Prentice, Gerrig & Bailis, 1997; Strange & Leung, 1999) and this influence can endure weeks after the exposure to the narrative (Appel & Richter, 2007; Murrar & Brauer, 2017). Studies have found reliable narrative effects on issues such as politics (Iguarta, 2010), slavery (Strange, 2002), terrorist groups (Casebeer & Rusell, 2005). Especially in the field of health, studies have shown that narratives can be influential on beliefs and attitudes toward, among others, condom efficacy (in a situation comedy, Collins, Elliott, Berry, Kanouse, & Hunter, 2003), HIV (in a daytime drama, Kennedy, O’Leary, Beck, Pollard, & Simpson, 2004), and contraception (in a prime-time drama, Brodie et al., 2001). Narratives have been also implemented with the goal of reducing prejudice. For example, research has shown that exposure to representations of positive interactions with minority members improved attitudes toward minority group members (Black, gay, Arab/Muslims, and immigrants; Igartua 2010; Müller, 2009; Murrar & Brauer, 2017; Ortiz & Harwood, 2007; Schiappa, Gregg, & Hewes, 2005). Or, in a context of severe social group conflict, such as in the post-genocide Rwanda, a radio soap opera helped improve perceived social norms for social interaction between members of the two communities (Paluck, 2009).

Generally, a recent meta-analysis (Braddock & Dillard, 2016) of 40 studies (with more than 7.000 participants), all of which had examined the effects of a narrative message compared to a control condition (in which no message or no topically relevant message appeared), showed that exposure to narratives reliably affect beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors of recipients in accordance to the viewpoints of the narratives. Therefore, the evidence supporting the persuasive power of narratives is undisputed. Next, it is important to understand how narrative persuasion is possible, or in other words, what are the underlying processes that explain it. The theoretical models that address this issue are presented next.

Theoretical Accounts Explaining Narrative Persuasion

Transportation-imagery model. According to the transportation-imagery model (Green & Brock, 2002), the power of narratives is based on the experience of being lost in a book or a film, swept up in a story so much that the book reader or the movie-goer lose contact with the world around them and they are entering the world of the narrative. Central to this process is the evocation of imagery, that is, individuals’ experience of mental images representing components of a story, such as a protagonist, a scene, the setting etc. In other words, individuals are transported to the narrative world and this experiential state of transportation accounts for narrative persuasion. To be transported to the narrative world means that individuals recreate mentally the story with vivid imagery. Transportation is defined as “a convergent process, where all of the person’s mental systems and capacities become focused on the events occurring in the narrative” (Green & Brock, 2002, p. 324).

            A consequence of being transported is that recipients partly lose access to the real world and they don’t pay attention to events happening in their immediate environment (e.g. somebody leaving the room). More interestingly, the model assumes that, while immersed in the narrative, recipients distance themselves from real world, not only physically, but also psychologically, so that they do not think facts or other real life related information, which can oppose or contradict narrative world. This way, real life information becomes less accessible and narrative ideas and positions take center stage. Another consequence is that recipients do not return unchanged from their ‘journey’ of transportation. At minimum, they have the memory of what they experienced, or furthermore, their beliefs may have changed, or they experience strong emotional reactions (e.g. moved, inspired, thrilled etc.).

It is important to note that transportation differs from elaboration, as construed in the rhetorical persuasion literature (e.g. the Elaboration Likelihood Model, Petty & Wegener, 1999). Contrary to elaboration, that is defined as an analytical process, transportation is conceived as a holistic experiential state. Green and Brock (2000) argue that elaboration is a divergent process, whereby individuals use information (e.g., their prior knowledge) differently from that presented in a message to evaluate the arguments presented. On the other hand, transportation is a convergent process, whereby all individual’s mental systems are fully focused on the narrative.

            According to the model, individuals may differ in their ability to immerse themselves in the narrative and become fully involved in it. This trait of transportability captures individual differences in becoming transported into a narrative (e.g. Mazzocco, Green, Sasota, & Jones, 2010) Also, there are narrative related characteristics that differentially invite recipients’ involvement and transportation. Artistic craftsmanship of a book or a film is one of the most important, but less easily determined, characteristic of a story. Another relevant characteristic is adherence to the narrative format. For example, in order for the suspense to build up, a specific narrative structure needs to be followed, so the reader would wonder about the fate of the protagonist in the next turn of the plot. Also, the medium itself may play a role, for example, a book allows the reader to follow their own pace of reading, while the film has the ability to fix attention and facilitate intense participatory experiences. The authors suggest that books, compared to films, are more likely to instigate greater transportation and, therefore, more likely to induce greater belief change.

            Generally, there is strong evidence supporting the model’s basic assumption that greater transportation is connected with greater belief and attitude change in response to the stories (e.g. Escalas, 2004; Green & Brock, 2000; Wang & Calder, 2006).

Extended elaboration likelihood model. Another theoretical account that has been used to explain narrative persuasion is the Extended Elaboration Likelihood Model (E-ELM, Slater, 2002; Slater & Rouner, 2002). Deriving from the long tradition of ELM in rhetorical persuasion (e.g. Petty & Wegener, 1999), E-ELM focuses on the ability of narrative to influence beliefs, attitudes and behavior mainly by reducing counterarguing, that is, the thoughts that recipients produce to challenge or oppose the position of an influential message. According to the model, because recipients are engaged with the dramatic elements of the narrative are less likely to produce counterarguments and therefore are more open to be influenced by the embedded message. In other words, transportation diminish the motivation of recipients to counterargue the story points (Slater & Rouner, 2002).

Another premise of E-ELM is that involvement with characters serves similar processes as transportation. Recipients may perceive a character as similar to themselves ‘or at least as a person with whom they might have a social relationship’ (Slater & Rouner, 2002, p. 178). Identification with characters then, like transportation, undermines the motivation and the ability of the individuals to produce counterarguments and, therefore, they are left open to influence. However, as Moyer-Gusé (2008) argues, identification defined this way does not differentiate among identification and relevant concepts such as homophily, similarity, or parasocial interaction (see below).

Social cognitive theory. Another useful theoretical account for the effects of narratives is Social Cognitive Theory (SCT, Bandura 1986, 2004). SCT suggests that recipients by exposure to narratives can vicariously experience social life. By observing the characters in a narrative can learn how successful a behavior could be in achieving certain goals or, perhaps more importantly, how it is possible to perform a specific behavior. Central to the model is the idea that people are motivated to engage in some behaviors and not in others. Motivation depends on the outcome expectancies, that is, recipient’s perceived consequences of a behavior. Positive outcomes reinforce the behavior in the recipient’s mind. Motivation to perform a behavior also depends on self-efficacy, individual’s perceived confidence in their ability to perform the specific behavior. Recipients, by observing in the narrative how a specific behavior is performed, increase their confidence in their ability to perform the behavior and feel more efficacious about it. According to the theory, attractive and similar characters are more likely to be noticed by recipients (and therefore be imitated) and also to increase perceptions of self-efficacy.

Involvement with characters. Although, not a theoretical account per se, involvement with characters is perceived as a central explanatory avenue to narrative persuasion. A number of different concepts that describe recipients’ interaction with characters and fall under the umbrella term of involvement with characters should be analytically discussed (Moyer-Gusé, 2008). The concepts that have been used in the literature are identification, wishful identification, similarity, parasocial interaction (PSI), and liking. According to Cohen (2001), identification means that the recipient imagines ‘being the character and replaces his or her personal identity and role as audience member with the identity and role of the character’ (Cohen, 2001, p. 251). Identification process has four dimensions: (a) empathic (recipients share similar feelings with character), (b) cognitive (recipients share the same point of view with character), (c) motivational (recipients adopt the goals of the character), (d) absorption (recipients lose self-awareness while they psychologically interact with characters). Identification should not be confused with wishful identification, the process whereby recipients want to be like and emulate the character (Giles, 2002). In this process, recipients understand the distance there is between themselves and the character but they also recognize characteristics of the characters that they would like to assume. They want to become like the characters. Rather, identification is defined as an emotional and cognitive process whereby the recipients take on the role of the character.

            Another relevant concept is similarity, or homophily, which refers to the perceived degree of similarity to the character on various dimensions such as physical characteristics, psychological traits, or social values (Eyal & Rubin, 2003). Similarity is perceived as a cognitive prerequisite of identification. Recipients may perceive that they share similar attributes with the characters and, then, they will take on the role and become the character, both cognitively and emotionally.

            Another relevant concept is liking which refers to the positive evaluation of the character, and is conceived as a social attraction process (Giles, 2002). It also implies the desire to become (hypothetically) friends with the character. Liking is supposed to proceed recipients’ willingness to initiate a parasocial interaction with the character. Parasocial interaction (PSI) has been defined as ‘the seeming face-to-face relationship between spectator and performer’ (Horton & Wohl, 1956, p. 215) and is perceived as a pseudorelationship with the character that has the characteristics of an interpersonal relationship, except it is not reciprocated by the character (Giles, 2002). PSI should be distinguished from related concepts such as similarity since the latter is not necessarily component of the former.

As Moyer-Gusé (2008) points out, all these concepts have been useful in examining involvement with character but it should be noted that only in identification recipients lose temporarily themselves and take on the perspective of the character. In other concepts (liking, similarity and PSI) recipients maintain their perspective and make judgements about the character, while wishful identification lies somewhere in between, with the recipient simultaneously being him or herself and, at the same time, imagining the character in a wishful way.

            Entertainment overcoming resistance model. Moyer-Gusé (2008) developed a comprehensive narrative persuasion model that focuses on how narratives overcome resistance from recipients and thus leading to belief and attitude change. Resistance is perceived as any reaction against change in response to some perceived attempt for change (Knowles & Linn, 2004). The model deals with a number of resistance forms. A significant and potent form of resistance is psychological reactance (Brehm, 1966), which is conceived as an arousal, triggered when individuals feel that their freedom to choose their own attitudes and behaviors is threatened. Recipients reject the change intended message in order to reassert their independence. In health communication especially, reactance has been found to be an important variable undermining persuasion, leading sometimes even to ‘boomerang’ effects, where recipients follow even more strongly the discouraged behavior (Burgoon, Alvaro, Grandpe, & Voloudakis, 2002). Moyer-Gusé assumes that, because narrative does not have an explicit persuasive intent, it may not produce reactance because recipients will not be alarmed. Also, reactance may be reduced by the process of parasocial interaction that may result when recipients like a character, or, when they develop a pseudorelationship with a character that is not perceived as threating or imposing.

            Another form of resistance is counterarguing and, according to Moyer-Gusé, it can be overcome, not only by transportation to the narrative, as E-ELM proposes, but, also, through the involvement with character. Recipients that have a PSI with a character may perceive them as more trusting and truthful and, therefore, they will be less willing to produce arguments that oppose their messages.

            Another form of resistance is optimistic bias, which refers to people’s perception that they are less likely to be affected by a risky behavior compared to other people. Hence, people may think that they are invulnerable to some potential risk and therefore resist persuasion. However, if they think that they are similar to a character that is portrayed as vulnerable to a risk factor, they might change their perceptions about invulnerability. Moreover, if recipients identify with the character this form of resistance should be undermined even further.

            A final form of resistance, according to Moyer-Gusé, is perceived norms, which refers to perception of what kinds of behaviors are acceptable and normative. Involvement with character, especially PSI, could affect recipients’ perceptions of normative ways of behavioral conduct. By viewing that a character that they relate to, performs a specific behavior may create the impression that such (positive) behavior is normative and therefore more acceptable to be followed.

Methodological Issues in Evaluating Narrative Persuasion

            How do we know when a narrative has led to persuasion? In order to evaluate the persuasiveness of a narrative, or an entertainment-education program, a number of methodological issues should be addressed (see Wimmer & Dominick, 2011). To ensure that changes in beliefs and attitudes of recipients can be attributed to the exposure to a specific narrative and not to another, unexamined, either internal (e.g. personal interest, individual differences), or external, factor (e.g. exposure to other similar content, experience of a real-life event with consequences on attitudes) a number of methodological steps need to be taken. Controlling the influence of such unexamined factors is essential for the validity of the researcher’s inferences about the narrative influence.

            Such methodological decisions concern the setting (what is the context of narrative exposure), the participants (who is taking part in the study), the exposure pattern (to which narrative every participant is exposed to), the narrative content (which narrative should be chosen for the study), and, more importantly, the study design (how the study is set up). One should think about the appropriateness and the feasibility of the research setting. For example, while examining the influence of a film on children’s attitudes towards various social groups, children could view the film on an appropriate device in their classroom, or they can be given an internet link to watch it online from their homes, or they can be brought to a university lab. Every setting has different advantages and disadvantages in terms of the control of factors that may affect exposure to the content (use of a lab may provide more control but not a naturalistic environment, whereas use of home as exposure context may provide a naturalistic environment but less control). Decisions should be made on the feasibility of each choice but also on the quality of data desired.

Another decision should concern the participants of the study. In the same example, which schools and students should be included in the sample? Should be sampled schools from different geographical areas (e.g. rural, urban etc.), or schools representing areas with different socioeconomic status (SES)? The answer to this question should be based on a theoretical analysis that will point out the specific sample characteristic, like SES, which are expected to be related to the beliefs and attitudes under examination and, therefore, should be taken into account and examined in the study.

A relevant decision concerns the question of which narrative content a participant should be exposed to, if more than one is examined, i.e. the exposure pattern. Someone may examine the effects of two different films that may vary the message in terms of strength, or of another quality. For example, influence by a fictional or a nonfictional narrative could be compared. In another case, and this is something that is quite common in this context, one may want to include a group of participants that are not exposed to the specific content but to another, irrelevant one. This is the control group of a study design. In order to decide to which content participants are exposed to, randomization should be implemented. That is, participants should be randomly assigned to the different exposure groups, so that each participant (or group) has equal chances of being included to each exposure group.

Another decision should concern the selection of the relative narrative content. For example, if one wants to examine the effects of antiwar narrative on children’s attitudes toward the war, which film should be more appropriate? After an initial selection of a film, it should be examined whether children understand and interpret the antiwar message of the film in a similar way that the researcher does? Is the antiwar message explicit or subtle? Is the film quite dramatic or not? Does this matter to children? To answer all these questions appropriate pilot testing (i.e., initial examination of various contents) is needed so that the researcher has evidence on how participants understand the content initially chosen.

The most important decision a researcher has to make concerns the study design, or, in other words, the plan of the study, the way that the study will be run. A simple design of three steps may be followed. That would include a pretest, then exposure to the narrative, and then a posttest. First, the researcher measures participants’ relevant beliefs and attitudes, then – and it is better this step to be taken not immediately after the pretest measurement – participants are exposed to the narrative content, and then participants report again their beliefs and attitudes (as they did in pretest). The differences observed between pretest and posttest indicate that exposure to the specific narrative content changed participants’ beliefs and attitudes. Although useful, this simple design cannot exclude the potential influence (or confounding as it is called) of other than content factors on attitudes: for example, did the sample of participants have certain characteristics (prior elevated interest in participating in the study) that may have affected their attitudes? Or, did other events happen concurrently with exposure to the content (e.g. something that attracted attention of national media) that may have made recipients to rethink their attitudes toward a new direction? In both these cases, a researcher cannot disentangle what was the effects of the narrative on beliefs and attitudes, and what was the effect of individual differences (i.e., recipients’ interest to the topic) or of some coincidental media attention to the topic.

One way to overcome the problems noted above is to include another group of participants that they will not be exposed to the narrative content (i.e. the control group) but they will nevertheless provide the pre- and posttest measurements. Care should be taken that the control group has similar to the exposure group characteristics, especially to the ones that are theoretically relevant to beliefs and attitudes. As noted above, the best way to avoid self-selection problems (i.e. participants choosing the group that they will be in) is by assigning participants to the exposure or the control group at random (i.e. randomization).

Possible differences in beliefs and attitudes between the exposure group and the control group can be then truly attributed to the exposure to the narrative and not to some other factor. Of course, there are other study designs that can be used but cannot be presented in the present paper (for analytical descriptions see Christensen, 2004; Montgomery, 1997).

References

Abbott, H. P. (2002). The Cambridge introduction to narrative. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Appel, M., & Richter, T. (2007). Persuasive effects of fictional narratives increase over time. Media Psychology, 10, 113-134.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 121–154). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bandura, A. (2004). Social cognitive theory for personal and social change by enabling media. In A. Singhal, M. J. Cody, E. M. Rogers, & M. Sabido (Eds.), Entertainment-education and social change: History, research, and practice (pp. 75–96). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bilandzic, H., & Busselle, R. W. (2013). Narrative persuasion. In J. P. Dillard & L. Shen (Eds.), The Sage handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice (2nd ed. pp. 200–219). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Braddock, K. & Dillard, J. P. (2016): Meta-analytic evidence for the persuasive effect of narratives on beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. Communication Monographs, 83, 446-467.

Brehm, J. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York: Academic Press.

Brodie, M., Foehr, U., Rideout, V., Baer, N., Miller, C., Flournoy, R., et al. (2001). Communicating health information through the entertainment media: A study of the television drama ER lends support to the notion that Americans pick up information while being entertained. Health Affairs, 20, 192–199.

Burgoon, M., Alvaro, E., Grandpre, J., & Voloudakis, M. (2002). Revisiting the theory of psychological reactance: Communicating threats to attitudinal freedom. In J. Dillard & M. Pfau (Eds.), The persuasion handbook: Theory and practice (pp. 213–232). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Casebeer, W. D., & Russell, J. A. (2005). Storytelling and terrorism: Towards a comprehensive ‘counter-narrative strategy.’ Strategic Insights, 6(3).

Christensen, L. B. (2004). Experimental methodology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Cohen, J. (2001). Defining identification: A theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters. Mass Communication & Society, 4, 245–264.

Collins, R. L., Elliott, M. N., Berry, S. H., Kanouse, E. E., & Hunter, S. B. (2003). Entertainment television as a healthy sex educator: The impact of condom efficacy information in an episode of Friends. Pediatrics, 112, 1115–1121.

Eyal, K., & Rubin, A. M. (2003). Viewer aggression and homophily, identification, and parasocial relationships with television characters. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47, 77–98.

Fazio, L. K., & Marsh, E. J. (2008). Slowing presentation time increases, rather than decreases, errors learned from fictional stories. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 15, 180-185.

Giles, D. C. (2002). Parasocial interaction: A review of the literature and a model for future research. Media Psychology, 4, 279–305.

Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 701–721.

Green, M. C., Brock, T. C., & Kaufman, G. F. (2004). Understanding media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative worlds. Communication Theory, 14, 311–327.

Green, M. C., Strange, J. J., & Brock, T. C. (Eds.). (2002). Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hoffner, C. (1996). Children’s wishful identification and parasocial interaction with favorite television characters. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40, 389–402.

Horton, D., & Wohl, R. R. (1956). Mass communication and para-social interaction: Observations on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry, 19, 215–229.

Iguarta, J.-J. (2010). Identification with characters and narrative persuasion through fictional feature films. Communications, 35, 347–373.

Kennedy, M. G., O’Leary, A., Beck, V., Pollard, W. E., & Simpson, P. (2004). Increases in calls to the CDC national STD and AIDS hotline following AIDS-related episodes in soap opera. Journal of Communication, 54, 287–301.

Knowles, E. S., & Linn, J. A. (2004). The importance of resistance to persuasion. In E. S. Knowles & J. A. Linn (Eds.), Resistance and persuasion (pp. 3–11). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Mazzocco, P. J., Green, M. C., Sasota, J. A. & Jones, N. W. (2010). This story is not for everyone: Transportability and narrative persuasion. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(4), 361-368.

McGuire, W. J. (1986). The myth of massive media impact: Savagings and salvagings. In G. Comstock (Ed.), Public communication and behavior (pp. 173–257). New York: Academic Press.

Montgomery, D. C. (1997). Design and analysis of experiments. New York: John Wiley.

Moyer-Gusé, E. (2008). Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion: Explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment-education messages. Communication Theory, 18, 407–425.

 Müller, F. (2009). Entertainment anti-racism: Multicultural television drama, identification and perceptions of ethnic threat. Communications: European Journal of Communication Research, 34(3), 239– 256.

Murrer, S., & Brauer, M. (2017). Entertainment-education effectively reduces prejudice. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

Ortiz, M., & Harwood, J. (2007). A social cognitive theory approach to the effects of mediated intergroup contact on intergroup attitudes. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 51(4), 615–631.

Paluck, E. L. (2009). Reducing intergroup prejudice and conflict using the media: A field experiment in Rwanda. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 574-587.

Petty, R. E., & Wegener, D. T. (1998). Attitude change: Multiple roles for persuasion variables. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 323–390). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Petty, R. E., & Wegener, D. T. (1999). The elaboration likelihood model: Current status and controversies. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual-process theories in social psychology (pp. 41-72). New York: Guilford.

Prentice, D. A., Gerrig, R. J., & Bailis, D. S. (1997). What readers bring to the processing of fictional texts. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 4, 416-420.

Ryan, M. (2007). Toward a definition of narrative. In D. Herman (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to narrative (pp. 22–35). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (2005). The parasocial contact hypothesis. Communication Monographs, 72(1), 92–115.

Singhal, A., Cody, M. J., Rogers, E. M., & Sabido, M. (2004). Entertainment-education and social change: History, research, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Slater, M. D. (2002). Entertainment education and the persuasive impact of narratives. In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp. 157-181). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Slater, M. D., & Rouner, D. (2002). Entertainment-education and elaboration likelihood: Understanding the processing of narrative persuasion. Communication Theory, 12, 173–191.

Strange, J. J. (2002). How fictional tales wag real-world beliefs: Models and mechanisms of narrative influence. In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp. 263–286). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Strange, J. J., & Leung, C. C. (1999). How anecdotal accounts in news and in fiction can influence judgments of a social problem’s urgency, causes, and cures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 436–449.

Wang, J., & Calder, B. (2006). Media transportation and advertising. Journal of Consumer Research, 33, 151-162.

Wimmer, R. D., & Dominick, J. R. (2011). Mass media research: An introduction (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Strategic axes for the introduction of audiovisual education in school

Rea Walldén

Ph.D. in Philosophy, Film Theorist, Scientific Consultant, Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs

Antoinetta Angelidi

Film Director, Associate Professor, Film School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Nikos Artinos-Aletras

Film Critic, Educator

Vangelis Kalambakas

Film Director

Despina Mouzaki

Film Producer, Associate Professor, Film School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

This is an extended summary of the proposal that was put forward by the Working Group on Audiovisual Education, which participated in the National and Social Dialogue for the Education, of the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, in 2016. The full text (in Greek) is included in the Conclusions of the Dialogue[i].

A Social Need:

Recent developments in audiovisual technologies and the increasingly widespread use of audiovisual communication through television, the Internet, smart devices, videogames etc., have introduced multi-media messages (text-image-sound) into every aspect of everyday life. This situation is rich in possibilities and promises. However, in order for one to take advantage of these possibilities, one needs to know how to use audiovisual language. Without this knowledge, one is in danger of becoming a passive receiver-consumer of audiovisual messages, vulnerable to manipulation, while also in disadvantage in the job market. The division between the people who can use the audiovisual language and those who can’t, has a social class dimension and becomes gradually the basis for social discrimination. Audiovisual education constitutes a precondition for the optimal use of the possibilities offered by audiovisual education, in personal, social and professional life, as well as for conscious, critical and active citizenship and, therefore, should not be a class privilege

If we aspire to a democratic and just society, of conscious and active citizens, we should strive for audiovisual education to belong to everyone. The best means for the achievement of this goal is by introducing audiovisual education in school. This is a political choice and answers a social need.

Objectives of the introduction of audiovisual education in school:

1/ Audiovisual and Media Literacy: for the students to become able to use the audiovisual language consciously, critically and actively

2/ Aesthetic and Art Education: for the students to participate in the cultural wealth and the creative possibilities offered by the art of cinema (as well as of the arts and culture, in general)

3/ Technological and Digital Literacy: for the students to become conversant with technology, as well as its creative users.

These abilities will help the students become active citizens and fulfilled human beings.

Expected Learning Outcomes:

The expected learning outcomes differ according to age group, and include::

  • Visual perception, the development of the students ability to “see” and recognize visual elements, such as spatial relationships, axes, symmetries, contrast, light, form, colour
  • Time perception: timing, rhythm.
  • Distinction between reality and representation. Recognising the constructed nature of the audiovisual text. Critical approach of the concept of document.
  • Understanding the concept of the view-point, both literally and as a part of subjectivity. Understanding the difference between the objective and the subjective. Understanding the function of identification in the audiovisual message and its use as a means of manipulation.
  • Realizing the relation between form and content in the audiovisual language in general, and the audiovisual narration in particular. Creative use of audiovisual ‘tropes’.
  • Recognizing audiovisual codes and the levels of signification, including: the difference between literal and metaphorical meaning, as well as explicit and latent messages, and ideological mechanisms.
  • Cultivating the students’ abilities for expression through audiovisual creation.

Main Principles – Philosophy:

1/ Introducing audiovisual education in school does not mean to include another specialised module. Audiovisual education needs to be articulated with the entire curriculum. It functions as a way to teach and learn all the subjects, structurally, and not as a technique of illustration.

2/ Cinema is both a language and an art. Both its sides need to enter the classroom.

(a) Audiovisual Language is the medium of communication and expression using moving images and sounds. Audiovisual texts are the films, fiction and documentaries, television emissions of every kind, including the news, series, commercial and political advertisements, and reality shows, as well as the video clips in the Internet, and videogames. The students are already immersed in a universe of audiovisual messages. The school needs to offer them the tools to decode them consciously and approach them critically.

(b) The Art of Cinema is for the audiovisual language what literature is for written language. On the one hand, it is a treasure of knowledge and ways, visual and narrative forms, memory and identities, ideas and ideological structures. On the other, it is the main laboratory for experimentation and innovation in the audiovisual language. Therefore, audiovisual education necessarily includes the art of cinema.

3/ The use of audiovisual language, as of every language, includes the knowledge of both decoding and producing messages. In other words, the students must be taught both audiovisual “reading” and audiovisual “writing”. Moreover, they should learn to use the audiovisual language both as a means of communication and as a means of expression. Therefore, teaching should aim to cultivate both analytical-critical abilities and synthetic-creative ones.

It should be noted that today’s students usually are not only receivers but also producers of audiovisual messages, using their phones and smart devices, in a way somehow similar of the pre-school linguistic abilities of natural speakers. What the school has to teach them, however,  is the literate use of this language.

4/ In the audiovisual, as in every language, content is insolubly connected with form; the “what” exists only though the “how”. Students should be taught the function of visual and narrative codes, in order to approach the articulation of meanings. Therefore, films and audiovisual material to be studied should not be chosen solely according to the depicted topic, but equally for structural and formal characteristics.

5/ Introducing audiovisual education in school must be done “horizontally” into the curriculum. It implies re-planning the other subjects: (a) language and communication; (b) the arts; (c) new media and technologies; (d) the other subjects; (e) optional specialized modules

6/ It should also be done “vertically” from pre-school to high school.

Educational Principles:

The educational principles underlying our proposal include: developing critical thought, initiative and creativity through dialectic and inter-active teaching; encouraging co-operation through group work; and organising class-work around projects, without formal examinations.

The First Seven Steps:

The final objective of our proposal is the overall introduction of audiovisual education in the Greek school. Having this objective in mind, we propose seven steps leading in this direction.

1/ Explicit Recognition of the right to audiovisual literacy by the Greek State. Political and strategic choice by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture to actively support the access of all citizens to audiovisual literacy.

2/ Activating the Expert Stakeholders, nationally, regionally and locally, to participate in the planning, implementation and support of the process. These could include the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Culture; Greek Film Centre; Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT); the Film School at the Aristotle University, as well as other Higher Education Institutions of audiovisual interest, such as the Department of Audio and Visual Arts at the Ionian University, the Athens School of Fine Arts, and the Media Faculties and Departments of various HEIs; Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and the other film festivals; Hellenic Film Academy; professional societies and unions; the Greek Film Archive and the Thessaloniki Film Museum; film clubs, regional and local authorities and cultural agents.

3/ Making the most of the human capital of the country, as well as the existing research and teaching material. As examples of good practices, the following should be mentioned: the programme “MELINA – Education and Culture” (1995-2004), “Pame Cinema?” (since 1999), the “European Meeting of Young People’s Audiovisual Creation – Camera Zizanio” (Olympia Film Festival, since 2001), the “Major Programme for Training Educators” (NSRF 2007-2013), the material from “New School – New Programme of Studies (2009-2011), the programme “EUFORIA – Innovative Film Education for the Young Generation” (Thessaloniki Film Festival, 2015-2016), as well as private initiatives such as “Karpos – Centre for Education and Intercultural Communication” and “The 5C Project – AltCiné Action”.

4/ Making the most of the European Union expertise and funding

5/ Registering and optimal use of the existent Material Infrastructure of schools, as well as national, regional and local institutions and organisations, such as the HEIs and museums.

6/ Educating and supporting the educators, through the introduction of modules on audiovisual education in all the Education Departments of the HEIs; further support of teaching modules in the Film School at the Aristotle University and other HEIs of audiovisual relevance; introduction of audiovisual education in the specialized teaching modules in all HEIs; programmes of audiovisual education and training for active teachers.

7/ Finally, we propose certain possible immediate interventions: developing teaching scripts for the flexible zone (primary school), experiential  actions (secondary school),  research projects (high school), and technical education; making the most of the educational character of public television; creating an online platform with a selection of films, as well as supporting and enriching existent educational sites; initiating a pilot programme for training active educators on the audiovisual language and the use of cinema in class; initiating a pilot program for the education of parents; using audiovisual teaching in the courses for the refugees and immigrants

In conclusion: Our proposal comprises strategic axes for the structural introduction of audiovisual education to Greek school. It must be followed by structured planning and budgeting, then implementation planning, and finally its gradual implementation. In order for such an ambitious project to become possible, it is necessary for it to be endorsed as a political and strategic choice by the State. Moreover, it needs to involve all the expert stakeholders and to make use of the human capital of the country and the existent expertise, while always remembering that the crux of its successful implementation lies with the educators. Of course, it also needs investment in money and time, neither of which is readily available in the present conditions of crisis. We argue, however, that it should be considered a priority, as it constitutes a social need and would contribute to the country’s economic growth.

[i] Αγγελίδη Α., Αλέτρας Ν., Βαλντέν Ρ., Καλαμπάκας Β., Μουζάκη Δ. (Ομάδα Εργασίας για την Οπτικοακουστική Εκπαίδευση, 27/05/2016).  «Οπτικοακουστική Εκπαίδευση». Στο: Επιτροπή Εθνικού και Κοινωνικού Διαλόγου για την Παιδεία. Πορίσματα, σελ. 74-79. Στον ιστότοπο: Εθνικός και Κοινωνικός Διάλογος για την Παιδεία, του Υπουργείου Παιδείας, Έρευνας και Θρησκευμάτων. Διαθέσιμο: http://dialogos.minedu.gov.gr/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/PORISMATA_DIALOGOU_2016.pdf

Early age film and media education in Poland. New Horizons Association as a rescue solution

Kamila Żyto

Department of Media and Audiovisual Arts
University of Łódź

Film and media education in case of early age, preschool children[1] is a particularly complicated matter. Various factors with methodology being one of the many influence and determine the situation. Some problems are rooted in young childrens’ learning abilities and skills, others in the medium’s inherent characteristics or in misunderstandings about the role movies should play in the child’s cognitive and emotional development.  Programs/institutions dealing with early age film and media education should not just aim at youngsters, but at their parents, too. In my paper I will discuss on the one hand the problems related to audiovisual education of preschool children and on the other I will expand on Polish institutions trying to resolve these problems in innovative and sufficient, yet not entirely satisfying ways. My main point of reference and example will be provided through the description of activities introduced by New Horizons Association in the field of film education.

 Wide perspective

Film and media education  seems to take a central place in E.U  politics.  One of the main aims of the Lisbon Strategy, accepted in 2000 during the European Council’s meeting,  was to adjust education  to new social conditions, as well as enable it to meet the challenges posed by the effect of globalisation.  What is more, a lot of attention has been paid to preschool education and as Marta Kotarba-Kańczugowska claims, education, in general, was addressed as a priority issue[2]. Film education, though not directly mentioned, is known for its crucial role in providing opportunities to achieve the goals set by The Lisbon Strategy. Present-day existence relies widely on audiovisual communication, which has prevailed in both work and everyday life. The omnipresence of audiovisual culture made media and film education a necessity in global world. Ten years after the ratification of The Lisbon Strategy in 2010, new arrangements have been announced. This time European directives place emphasis on the need  to increase innovation and creativity at all levels of education. Once again film and media could offer a solution and become the answer for such demands in education.

Although in Poland film education is not an integral part of school curriculum, it is more and more often taken into account. Many government and non-government institutions, organization and associations have joined forces in order to introduce film and media education to primary and secondary school programs. After KRRiT’s (Krajowa Rada Radiofinii i Telewizji) pessimistic report, published in 2000 and pointing to a media education that is constantly belittled and marginalized in Poland, as well as to other factors like the chaos in decision making and the lack in modern education patterns and appropriate educational tools, much has been done to improve the situation[3]. However, this doesn’t involve preschool education which remains disintegrated and not properly supervised. As Marta Kotarba-Kańczugowska writes: “Nowadays in Poland we have to deal with huge diversification in terms of education ideas regarding kindergartens. Different categories are used in public debate to define priorities in this level of education – play, knowledge, discipline, freedom. Lack of coherence not only at the level of national but also departmental, regional and even individual activities and notions can be noticed”[4].  Furthermore,  the 2010 EU document states that one of the most important matters is to provide equal access to preschool education and make it a common thing. In that respect Poland has to deal with a complex situation as kindergarten attendance is not obligatory and is most often treated by  parents as a kind of “rescue solution”, used when none of the family members is able to take care of the young, rather than a form of education and socialization. Consequently, the rate of four year olds sent to kindergarten is dramatically low. The average European percentage as estimated in 2008 reached approximately 90%, while in Poland it  was not more than 50%.  Nevertheless, there appears to be a slow but constant growth[5]. Additionally, the number of kindergartens is not sufficient. The situation in the countryside and in small towns is even worse. The  so-called “alternative forms of preschool education” has been lately introduced as a possible solution to the problem. Kindergartens can be public, non-public or supported by different kinds of associations emerging from a variety of philosophical or religious backgrounds and systems. To sum up, early age education in Poland is an exclusive privilege and of course film education at that level of development is a rarity[6]. In Europe the situation is different due to the emphasis given on educational wealth and variety.

A New Hope –  New Horizons Association

In Poland, there exist very few institutions dealing with the problem of youth’s film and media education. Some kindergartens try to face this challenge, others not. Yet, little has been done towards this direction. In the following chapter I will address the film education issue.

In Łódź – Poland’s film center – children can participate in workshops or meetings wherein they discuss books, watch cartoons, but also make animation or construct  film settings. Such events are organized by SE-MA-FOR, a collaboration between the Museums of Animation and Cinematography (the cycle named “Little Cinematograph”). Operating in Wrocław[7], the European Capital of Culture in 2016, the New Horizons Association, I am about to present in-length, attempts to deal with preschool education as it represents the most complex and many-sided attitude to the problem of early age education.

The extended activities scheme undertaken by New Horizons directly relates to its origins. The Association was founded by Roman Gutek – a businessman and at the same time a culture activist. Simultanesously to studying management, he attended the  Aleksander Jackiewicz  anthropology seminar in The Institute of Art at PAN (Polish Academy of Science). As one of the first culture activists, he combined practical and intellectual abilities that guaranteed an open-minded way of thinking about film culture necessary for understanding the  importance of audience education. Gutek began his career with the organization of  film festivals (i.e.Warsaw Film Festival) and film clubs, as well as with the running of Gutek Film distribution company. It was later in time that he became actively involved in the field of film education. Nowadays, the  New Horizons Association remains a brand mainly associated with art-house film festivals such as the T-mobile New Horizons and the American Film Festival (the former illustrating artistic cinema’s new horizons).

However, the ambition of this non-governmental association extends much further than that. It aims in responding to the needs of  all audience ages. Focusing on pre-school children,  I am going to discuss the projects designed for this target-group by the association. Each year a film festival (Kids Film Festival) aimed at 5 to 12 year olds is organized. Within a period of ten days,  it screens  over forty films, many of which originate  from countries such as Norway or France (this year’s edition). These cinema cultures are much more involved in the production of films for children than Poland is[8]. The Kids Film Festival does not simply introduce new film productions, most important it makes them  available to fifteen Polish cities (considered as one of the Festiva;’s competitive advantages, this certainly does not resolve the countryside problem). The Festival is enriched with panel discussions and workshops.  What seems to be of particular interest and value are the meetings held between professionals involved in education and in childrens’ culture (taking place in Wrocław and Warszawa). In 2016, when Wrocław was European Capital of Culture, “aKino” (educational project) was introduced. Meetings started being organized once a month, each   having its own unique topic and aiming at different age-groups, as well as the youngest. In May, for example, the informing idea behind the screening revolved around current identity issues and differences (“aaa I am myself”).  In the Associaton’s website, we find the following description: “What is identity? It is self-awareness. In May we create audiovisual portraits. Photos, films, drawings, songs that you sing  alone, in a choir or a duet – all forms accepted, no restrictions apply. The creative outcomes delivered will be used to make a film premiering in  September.  The  awarded application is going to become a mural.  Show who you are !” Workshops involve the screening of a three minute long Danish animation by Susan Hoffmann. According to the shorts’ storyline: “The gray lynx does not fit into the group of peers wearing  colorful furs. An effort to make friends ends up with the lynx being  laughed at and rejected. The desperate animal finds out how to sneak in grace of unsympathetic to him fellow guys”. Both the workshops and the film are designed with the youngest childrens’ emotional and intellectual abilities in mind. Meanwhile, they are adjusted to the challenges of modern world and address the threats posed by globalisation. In addition, the New Horizons Cinema Kids’ Mornings in Wrocław’s takes place over the weekends. Although mainly available to townspeople, they still consitute a solution to the pre-school education issue. They involve a variety of activities attempting to stimulate the  senses by joining together screenings with art-workshops, discussions, as well as movement activities that spark childrens’ creativity and imagination. According to the Association’s media campaign slogan, children are on the Horizon (Kids on the Horizon/Dzieciaki na horyzoncie  http://dzieciakinahoryzoncie.pl/).

New Horizons Association, also, focuses on teachers and parents, a case not necessarily made by other institutions and initiatives. The last four years,  Warsaw’s Muranów and Wrocław’s New Horizons cinemas hold screenings and run psycho-educational workshops and training courses for kindergarten teachers. Most important, there is a data-base of films for children providing access to  teaching resources. A special web-browser facilitates choice and helps select films according to age. Teachers can enroll groups of children or pupils for a cycle of meetings implemented by experts or special guests. Pedagogical material consists of information on the film and the film’s director, comments made by experts, lesson plans and assessment shits, useful not just to educators but, also, to parents, as they can easily be adapted. Yet again, this project is geographically restricted favoring urban space over countryside. It operates either in main Polish cities or smaller ones wherein art-house cinema-owners and town cultural institutions  became partners (for example cinema AMOK in Gliwice, Community Center in Kęty, Zagłębie Palace of Culture). Disability access is possible, not in all, but in some cases. Through time and despite of its  various disadvantages, New Horizons of Film Education has received prestigious awards such as the one being granted by the Polish Film Institute.

They were definitely well-deserved as the New Horizons Association pays attention to these  aspects of film education most often neglected. Parents’ film awareness level is central to the Association.  At its main web-page, Kids on the Horizon, we find the Parent Zone section encouraging and facilitating communication. From October 2015 to June 2016 there were workshops offered to children and parents in Warsaw and Wrocław. While children attended art activities after the workshop’s screening, parents had opportunity to talk to psychologists. The general idea being that of preparing adults to discuss films with youth. Earlier parent-teacher type of meetings provided basic information on projects, plans, movies, and on the ways work can be done with children at home.  This type of exchange, helpful to all youth, is particularly meaningful in the  case of the youngest ones. Furthermore, access to film education in small cities is supported by New Horizons through the paradigm set by Roman Gutek which made the latest feature films and animation available to children from the age of 4 to 15. All titles are rated and the browser helps the user find suitable films.

Last but not least, Films for Kids.Pro is one of the most promising initiatives taken by the  New Horizons Association. Within the project’s framework, education and support to filmmakers is provided. As read in the web-page: “Films For Kids.Pro works  with 8 teams (scriptwriter and producer) on participants’ projects. We develop the script from a short synopsis to a second draft together with production basics (estimated budget, financing and promotion plan). Among our tutors are Philip Lazebnik (writers’ tutor – scriptwriter of Dreamworks movies – ex. Mulan, Pocahontas, currently working in Europe), Kirsten Bonnen Rask (writers’ tutor – script consultant to Lars von Trier and Urlich Seidl and currently writer, producer and consultant to many childrens’ films, as well as Head of the South Norwegian Filmcenter) and Ronald Kruschak (producers’ tutor – producer and writer of films that got many awards in Germany, some of which reached 1 mln. audience)”[9]. Whereas this is a unique kind of support in Poland, in  Europe it is rather a conventional procedure. Workshops and pitchings are necessary to rebuilt cinema for children in Poland and strengthen preschool education.

Education in Poland requires constant effort and care, as children do. In this respect, Preschool film and media education is very demanding. Instead of avoiding problems, introducing short-term, partial solutions or creating prejudices and stereotypes, we should treat it seriously and with professionalism. The obstacles there to overcome might appear difficult but policies aiming for improvement should be introduced immediately to avoid depriving next generations of knowledge that is crucial for efficient social contact. New Horizons Association’s numerous attempts to change the situation are inspiring and point towards directions that need to be explored.

[1]   I will mainly refer to children at the age of  3 to 7.

[2]   M. Kotarba-Kańczugowska, Kilka uwag o wychowaniu przedszkolnym w Polsce na europejskim tle porównawczym, „Teraźniejszość-Człowiek-Edukacja” 2011, nr 2 (54), s. 74.

[3]   The document entitled  Raport o stanie edukacji medialnej w Polsce was worked out by the group of scholars from Jagiellonian University headed by prof. Wiesław Godzic.

[4]   Kotarba-Kańczugowska, Kilka uwag…, dz. cyt., s. 82.

[5]   Datas according to EUROSTAT. Patrz: tamże, s. 77.

[6]          At the web page of Ministry of  National Education we can read: „The priority of  Government in the area of education is to increase access to high quality education for example by promoting preschool upbringing in case of children from 3 to 6 years old as well as increasing accesses to this form of education in rural areas”. But these declarations are still incoherent with the reality, <https://men.gov.pl/zycie-szkoly/wychowanie-przedszkolne/przedszkola/wychowanie-przedszkolne-w-polsce.html>. Ostatni dostęp: 10.03.2017.

[7]   Roman Gutek comments the choice of Wrocław for the headquarter of New Horizons activities: “Over 500 Polish films have been produced in Wroclaw; it was  once the location of a dynamically developing film culture with  several quality studio cinemas. However, in recent years, the  city has lacked a theater showing ambitious Polish and foreign films”, < http://www.kinonh.pl/artykul.do?id=1519>. Ostatni dostęp: 10.03.2017.

[8]   Every year the number of places that festival visits rises. In 2017 the third edition of Kids Film Festival will be present in thirty cinemas in twenty seven cities.

[9]   <http://dzieciakinahoryzoncie.pl/kino-dzieci-pro/> Ostatni dostęp: 10.03.2017.

COLLECTIONS

MANUALS

European Films For Innovative Audience / Designed by Freelance Creative