Why You Should Use Movie Clips in Your Lessons

As an educator, you’re often looking for new ways to support your students in their learning. You’ll add videos, fun activities, worksheets, and other materials to your lessons so that students can demonstrate their learning. But have you considered adding movie clips into the mix?

Yes, movies. Those entertaining works of art. With their enthralling stories, impressive effects, and emotional conflicts, they are cherished in culture. They can also be wonderfully educational, offering your students unique opportunities to engage in discourse and deeply inspiring them. Below, I’ve outlined several ways that movie clips can support your lessons.


They’re comfortable and familiar

It’s no secret that students love movies. They are central to our culture: we talk about them, quote from them, and reference them in countless ways. As a result, students are receptive to watching movie scenes in class, more so than other types of videos. Using movie clips related to your lesson will pique student interest and get them ready for the discussion and activities that follow.

They improve retention

Most movies contain an element of humor to keep the audience entertained. And humor has been shown to activate our sense of wonder and boost retention. When key lesson concepts are presented in a comical manner, students are more likely to remember them because humor activates the brain’s dopamine reward system, and cognitive studies reveal that dopamine contributes positive to long-term memory.

They bring concepts to life

Instead of using diagrams to teach Sigmund Freud’s theory of the ego, id, and superego, you could show a scene from The Emperor’s New Groove. Or you could illustrate Colonel Robert E. Lee’s reasons for siding with the Confederates during the American Civil War with a video from Gods and Generals. These examples demonstrate the concepts in ways that are more applicable to the real world. In the first example, students can compare Kronk’s situation to a time in their lives when they were listening to conflicting advice. In the second example, students can more deeply understand Lee’s allegiance to his home through his facial expressions and tone of voice.

They make complex concepts easier to understand

Movies can make complex concepts more easily digestible because their primary purpose is to entertain. As a result, they have an incentive to communicate dense topics in a simple manner; otherwise, they will lose their audience. Imagine trying to teach students about schizophrenia when they don’t know anyone who has the disease. Through the movie, A Beautiful Mind, students can build a connection with the main character, and understand his perspective and all of the struggles he faces in his everyday life.


If used correctly, using movie clips in your lessons can be invaluable for fostering greater student learning and understanding. However, like anything else, movies can be used both effectively and ineffectively. For tips on using movies in your lessons and where to find educational movie clips, see the links below.

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