The Magic of Cinema

June 02, 2018Komal Patil

The very first step in the child’s education shall be to get him/her deeply interested in the subject, and we at HumbleSchool are using short films to achieve this. You may wonder that our approach of creating short films is a little different and slightly informal, that too while dealing with technical and rigorous concepts of science. In this write-up, I would like to explain why we feel cinema is the best medium to get the children deeply interested in the subject.

I fondly remember a small incident when my lovely niece was a little over two, and I was trying to feed her dinner. We were sitting on a newspaper spread out on the floor. While eating, she suddenly noticed an ad, put her tiny little finger on the celebrity actor in the ad and shouted with joy, “Coach Sir, Coach Sir!” Then she sprang up, ran out of the room and returned brandishing a plastic Hockey stick and ball.

I was clueless as to what was happening, but it was entertaining to see her little drama. She hit the ball towards the nearby wall and started dancing and squealing with joy, “Goal, Goal!” And then it dawned on me, she had watched the film Chak De India! with us a few weeks ago, and remembered Shahrukh Khan as the hockey coach. Now that was some impression on such a young child!

That incident and many others intrigued me, and led me to explore the power of cinema on children’s learning. This intrigue is one of the cornerstones of our vision and mission for making HumbleSchool a creative learning platform for kids.

The internet has given us the power of anywhere, anytime learning. Now great teachers anywhere can pre-record their lectures, which students can consume anytime anywhere over the internet. But to be able to harness this power we need to understand some practical aspects:

  • It will be folly on our part to assume that a lecture consumed over a smartphone or a tablet can match a classroom. The classroom discipline which makes a student concentrate and listen to the lecture for 30 to 60 minutes is not replicable in the distraction laden outside world.
  • The classroom discipline helps a student concentrate for longer, but at the same time limits his/her creativity and innate inquisitiveness by confining him/her within the bounds of 4 walls,a desk and a limited time duration. In contrast, knowledge consumed outside the classroom provides the student with the flexibility and freedom to explore things at will, for as long as desired.

So essentially, both the ways of consuming knowledge have their own advantages and disadvantages. Since we are creating content that is going to be consumed outside the confines of a classroom, we did not go with pre-recorded lectures but something which is more naturally consumable in a non-classroom environment; something which encourages students to curiously explore their surroundings. Hence we came up with short films built around daily life activities and the playful mischief of children. Films which would make them want to further explore the concepts in action all around them and in turn build enhanced interest in the subject.

The biggest challenge we faced while trying to cover all the concepts in the form of short films was that of technical jargon which comes along with teaching science. For instance, consider the statement “osmosis is a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one”. One needs to find relatable daily life phenomena to explain that and to top it up one needs to use plain and simple daily conversational language to put across the point.

The usage of this plain and simple daily conversational language leads me to another advantage of films. They are able to transcend the boundaries of age, gender and socio-economic background. For instance, films like Dangal, Secret Superstar etc. appeal to people of every age and are able to entertain people irrespective of their socio economic background. Be it a 10-year-old son of a watchman, be it a 9-year-old daughter of a software engineer, a housewife or a CEO of a company, everybody enjoys films in equal measure.

Hence we envision parents and children enjoying our films and wondering at the marvels of science together.

Let us know if you have any thoughts on our idea and we would be happy to learn from those.