Lifting Spirit with the Integration of Films into Elementary Education
Mr. Chen was invited to share his teaching practices at the “Taitung Flipped Classroom Workshop”. He urged other teachers to be courageous in bringing about changes in the current education system. It is his hope that more opportunities and voices will be given to schools in remote communities.
Mr. Chen received a bachelor's degree in Social Studies Education from the Taipei Normal University and a master's in Education Technology from Dan Jiang University. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award from Taipei City Government. He likes to discover new values from old traditions and has used films extensively as a teaching tool. His passion for movies has led him to pave a new path for his life and create new imprints in Taiwan’s education system. He wrote a book “Happy Student-The 30 Must See Films” and published a research paper on integrating films into elementary education. He is a frequent guest at educational workshops throughout Taiwan.
During his primary school years, he had three teachers who encouraged students to express themselves and did not use corporal punishment. They were his role models. When he was in high school, he was inspired by world-renowned director Ang Lee’s and became an avid movie fan at the Chuan-Mei Movie Theater. Unlike most movie theaters in Tainan that played Hollywood movies, Chuan-Mei showed a diverse selection of European independent films which gave him a whole new perspective on life beyond the island. In college, he was head of the film club and he joined the Chun-Hwei Movie Company as a courier and worked his way up to become a theater manager. He has consistently encouraged young people to explore and find their passion. He believes passionate pursuits lead to success.
When other teachers use extracurricular time to cram the study of Math and Language, Mr. Chen uses these hours to help his students explore, reflect and experiment. He transforms his classroom into a movie theater. Movies from the five continents are selected for the students to learn about cultures from different parts of the world. He engages his students through vigorous discussions on the film. Student performance has improved, even in Math and Language classes, when they are more engaged.
Because visual images are far more persuasive than text, Mr. Chen has found films to be a powerful tool to help students learn about themselves and to channel their negative attitudes and feelings into more constructive outlets.
This year, Mr. Chen organized a series of activities entitled “The Five Senses of India”, imitating the Bollywood Festival in India. His students were able to explore the colorful culture of India and experience facial painting, Bollywood music, incense burning, chai tea drinking, and henna painting through class presentations and lively discussions.
Mr. Chen brings movies into his classroom to enrich kids’ lives and lift their spirits. The movie “Billy Elliot” moved a very shy boy to perform in front of the class. Another boy who suffers autism and is often disruptive in the classroom gained a better understanding of his issues after watching the movies “Marathon” and “Temple Gradin”. His fellow classmates also learned to help him control his temper outbreaks. A boy who suffered self-mutilation learn to love himself after watching the movie “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.
Mr. Chen was deeply touched by Mr. Stanley Yen’s story about a little girl who tries to save as many starfish as she can. She said “I am not sure how many I can save, but I know I am changing the destiny of each starfish as I throw it back into the water." No good deed is too trivial to try. You can never tell when a scene in a movie is going to have some positive effect on a child’s life.
In this rapidly changing world, teachers bear the important task of being at the forefront of the advancement of the society. His/her primary task is not to discipline, but to resolve confusion and help youngsters build up their abilities to deal with the many obstacles that they will encounter in later years.People tend to think teachers change lives. However, Mr. Chen believes students are the real heroes because they enrich a teacher’s life as they overcome challenges and create opportunities together. Through the use of films, he hopes his students will be able to gain a holistic perspective on life, understand his/her place in the global community, and learn to care about others while building ample self-confidence to live a happy and fulfilling life.