Benefits and Perils of Using Movies in Education

The times have changed and education isn’t the same as it used to be. Teaching methods have changed for better and for worse. The digital age is upon us with every sector being affected and transformed.

One of the sectors experiencing change is the education sector. More teachers are choosing to change the way they administer information/materials to their students.

The traditional methods of teaching are now being replaced in some schools in favor of using technological devices like iPads and delivering information via movies, e-learning, m-learning and digital libraries. On that note, there has been opposition to using movies in class with most parents seeing it as a waste of time.

As with anything, using movies in education has its benefits and downsides, so it’s best we examine both so that we have a clearer picture of the matter. Let’s start with the benefits.



  1. Memory retention

We always hear it in class, that we should repeat a particular math problem over and over again to remember how to solve it or that we should teach others certain concepts to helps us remember them as well. With that said, this argument can be used in favor of movies as well.

The attention span of people online has gone down to 8 seconds, according to a study by Microsoft.  We can only assume this is the same case in the real world. This makes it difficult for teachers as they can’t keep their students interested in a certain subject matter and repeating it will only make it worse.

Movies alleviate this problem because it allows for repetition in a manner that will not bore the students. This can help improve their memory retention of that subject matter.

For instance, a teacher can talk about World War II in one lesson then repeat the concept in the form of a movie in another one. This helps students understand and immerse themselves in the content being taught.


  1. Makes Learning More interesting

It’s without a doubt that movies bring in that “wow” factor in a lesson. It helps students get immersed in the content being taught. This is more important for events that happened say 50 years ago. Students weren’t born then and can’t relate to the impact and effects of such events.

Movies allow them to immerse themselves and understand the events and its impact on society. Reading about the great depression in textbooks is one thing, but watching a documentary about it brings real-life meaning to the content.

A study in the American Journal for Interdisciplinary studies illustrates this well. According to the study, students who watched foreign movies tend to understand the language better as they see the nuances of the language like how native speakers talk in a conversation and the dialect of the particular language.


  1. A great tool for learning in the days when students aren’t focused

There are many activities in a school calendar year. Things like prom, game night and holidays can distract students, especially in the days leading up to it. As a teacher, it can be hard to win over a student’s interest when their mind focus is outside of the class.

On such days, why not use a medium that your students are already interested in?! Movies.  Movies can offer a great alternative as a teaching tool for the students. You can use movies to keep the students’ interest in the class, but also teach them as well. Be sure to select a movie that complements the topic you’re about to teach.


  1. Provide Learning Motivation

Traditional learning has always revolved around the same teaching concepts or the methodology. Solving problems on the board, working in groups and homework. It’s no surprise that students can tend to get bored with such a repetitive cycle. Movies can help break this by introducing something new into the mix.

Movies can motivate learning among students as they connect to the material emotionally as well as intellectually. It can make them think and learn about the subject matter and not just gloss over it.



Movies in classrooms do have their downsides as well. Let’s see how.


  1. Poor Use of Time

This is more of an objection to using movies in classrooms brought by administrators and parents. They feel like movies are a poor use of teaching time, and we can’t blame them. Movies haven’t been used in the right way. Movies get used as a way for:

  • Leisure time for the teacher so that they can relax and do work like grade papers later
  • Calm down an unruly classroom or
  • As a treat for the students for behaving well

This doesn’t put movies in a good light. For movies to be effective, teachers need to use them as a way to complement the subject matter being taught and not as a tool for entertainment.

As they aremore of a passive method of teaching. Students might need homework help if movies are used as a teaching strategy because they take up much of a student’s free time. They might find themselves lagging behind on their research papers, thesis, dissertation and college essays and in such cases, they have to rely on online writing services.


  1. Movies can be hard to manage with different classes

Movies can be difficult to manage for some teachers, especially if the movie is long and if the movie is being shown to multiple classes. If the movie is long, it will take multiple lessons to complete, which ties it to the point above of being an improper use of time.

It’ll also be difficult for the teacher if they have multiple classes. This is because they’ll have to remember the start and stop points for each class to make the movie relevant and interesting.


  1. Not the whole movie is educational

Not the whole movie is going to be educational. Maybe a small clip of the movie provides educational value to your students (that ties into the subject matter being taught as well). In that scenario, watching the entire movie would be a waste of time. We’d advise you to show the relevant clips and not the entire movie.


  1. Historical accuracy is still a problem

A movie is still a movie; it’s a dramatic portrayal of the event. Many movies are made to sell at the box office and make money. Therefore, historical accuracy always suffers in favor of dramatic portrayals of events that captures the audience. Sometimes, even the best of the movies are found to be highly inaccurate.

When teaching with movies, this must be pointed out or else your students will have wrong ideas about how the events at the time took place. Pointing out these scenes can also provide a teachable moment for your students. For instance, it can help them learn the importance of fact-checking.



Movies are a great way to improve the learning process. Studies have been conducted that show how movies can help students learn better. With that said, there is still a strong objection towards them in classrooms. Parents and administrators being the main obstacle.

Teachers also find it difficult to find ways to add the student movie to their classrooms as there are no materials to guide them. Simply put, movies can provide a great avenue for students to learn as long as teachers use them the right way.


Author Bio

 Alvin Franklin is an EdTech expert helping academicians come up with innovative and technical ways of imparting education. Backed with a holistic approach, implementing new methods of learning is important and this is where Alvin stands out. When he’s not at work, you can find him by the beach with his lovely Beagles, playing volleyball with friends and preparing Italian dishes for them in his kitchen.

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