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Gerontol Geriatr Educ. 2014;35(1):86-113. doi: 10.1080/02701960.2012.749253. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Two thumbs up: using popular films in introductory aging courses.

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  • 1a Gerontology Program , St. Cloud State University , St. Cloud , Minnesota , USA.


Good teaching requires thoughtful planning and creative thinking, especially when trying to engage students in material that is unfamiliar to them or encumbered by stereotypes, like aging. Classic and contemporary media can provide unique teaching opportunities in gerontology classrooms. Popular films can have a powerful influence over viewers' attitudes and perceptions, and spur in-depth discussions of aging-related topics common to introductory aging courses (e.g., ageism, abuse, inequality, caregiving, healthy aging, and intimate relationships). Additionally, films appeal to multiple learning styles, engaging a variety of learners. This article examines the value of using films in introductory aging courses, offers strategies for incorporating films in the gerontology classroom, suggests sample activities and assignments that pair popular films with aging course topics, identifies challenges of using film in various classrooms settings, and provides a detailed typology of films on each of the following aging topics: ageism and stereotypes, cognitive impairment, death and dying, diversity, family relationships, health and wellness, sexuality and intimacy, and work and retirement.

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