Film talk: When learners ask the questions

We previously looked at the kinds of questions and question techniques that might encourage children and young people to talk confidently, and to develop their curiosity, about film.

However being expected always to answer questions puts learners in a reactive position: how can we encourage them to ask questions for themselves?

When learners ask the questions

One educationalist coined the phrase ‘queries are theories’ - that’s to say that when we ask a question, we already have some idea of where the answer might lie, or what range of answers might be possible or available.

The British film educator Ian Wall has an activity that enables people to formulate their own film questions, together with ways of sorting out the questions into different types. He differentiates between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ questions, where ‘hotter’ questions related directly to aspects of film form and language, and the ‘cooler’ questions are to do with content.

For example, a group of young people watching a clip or short film might be asked to focus on some aspect of technique (how the camera is positioned, how the shot is lit); they might be asked to consider something from the story, or one of the bigger themes. (Formal approaches to analysis will be introduced in the next section).

An article explaining this approach is available here.


Watch the short film in its entirety.

Write down a list of questions you have about the film, and see if you can distinguish between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ questions. Post your questions in two columns in the Padlet below.

Have a look at other people’s questions: do you disagree about what makes a question ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ in this exercise?

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