For many years in preparation for the upcoming fall semester all first-year students at Georgia College were asked to read a common selection either over the summer or the day of freshman convocation. This year, however, the college is taking a new approach to common reading for students.
For the first time, first-year students were asked to watch a film instead — “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
“By watching the film, students will arrive on campus prepared to engage in discussions using the movie as a springboard to introduce critical thinking and begin the first steps toward creating a community of learners,” said Elaine Whitaker, English and rhetoric professor at Georgia College. Whitaker was part of the committee made up of approximately 10 faculty and staff members of the college who decided that moving the common reading to a common viewing was the right decision.
“This is a very social and visual generation,” said Whitaker. “A film gives them more chances to interact with each other and provides more room for discussion on a critical thinking level.”
After viewing the movie, students were broken up into groups of approximately 15 to 20 students. Some groups remained in the auditorium to have a question and answer session with one of the producers of the film, Dan Janvey, while other groups participated in circle meetings with college faculty and staff to discuss different aspects of the movie. Afterward, the groups switched, each having the opportunity to get all that they could out of the common viewing experience.