(Imported from: [link])
In my current Survey of Shakespeare class, we’re watching a movie version of A Comedy of Errors as we’re reading the play. That’s fine because Shakespeare is hard to understand, and seeing the scenes acted out makes the text easier to understand.
What would not be fine is if a teacher were to teach, for example, Harry Potter, and show the movie as the students read the book. Harry Potter is fairly recent, you don’t need the film to understand the text, it’s more likely that you’ll need the book to better understand the movie because they leave so much stuff out. And you should be starting with the book in the first place; I was unfortunate enough to read the books after watching the movies, so all I saw as I read were the faces of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, etc.–not that they’re not attractive people–I just missed out on the opportunity to give the characters my own faces.
Over the years, I’ve sometimes asked classmates if they’ve read a particular book for class and one of the responses was, “Nope, but I saw the movie. Same thing, right?” No. That’s such a lazy thing to do, and anyone who does that is missing out on so much. Imagining a novel is a much different experience than having it imagined for you and having it displayed on a screen. There are always things you see that others will see differently from reading the same text. You don’t get that experience sitting in front of a TV.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t show movies in the classroom. It’s the 21st century, you might as well get Netflix and hook up your laptop to a projector. But be smart about it. Not only should you choose books that don’t have movie adaptations, but you should also choose films that at first glance have nothing to do with the books you’re teaching.
My high school English teacher taught Beowulf as an example of the genre of epics. Instead of showing the horrible film to the class, he showed Whale Rider. What? How does that have anything to do with Beowulf? Quite a bit, actually. We soon learned that the storyline of Whale Rider shares many conventions with the epic. If you’re going to show a movie to the class, which you should, have them make thematic connections between two texts of different media. Pretty soon they’ll be comparing Doctor Who to Plato. Or something, I don’t know.