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“Eye’s film teaching pilot for special education brings knowledge together”

Prompted by the belief that film is an inclusive artform, Eye has set up a pilot to gather experience of film education for pupils with hearing issues and pupils with language development issues (cluster 2). Eye’s education team set out to explore the possibilities in partnership with three schools for pupils with special educational needs. Read all about the surprising, informative findings of this pilot below.

By Tamara Klopper06 June 2024

Film teacher Remco Efdé in front of a classroom

© Rutger Vos

In 2022, Eye Education’s creative and interactive team developed teaching materials for pupils with physical and/or mental disabilities (cluster 3) and/or children with psychological disorders and behavioural problems (cluster 4). In this new, second pilot the question was: how can we make film education more relevant and more accessible for pupils who are hard of hearing and pupils with language development issues (cluster 2)?

The team got to work on this with three schools that provide special education operated by the VierTaal foundation in the province of Noord-Holland.

In consultation with the teachers, Eye Education developed a series of lessons called Lights, Camera, … Emotion! for cluster 2 pupils in Dutch school year groups 6, 7 and 8. Together with a film teacher from Eye, the pupils actively watched films and clips, getting to know different kinds of films. They also carried out short, playful exercises and did some filming themselves.

Social-emotional skills

Prior to this, teachers at the schools were asked what they and their pupils needed. “They wanted a series of lessons that helps pupils develop social-emotional skills,” Pia Bechtle of Eye Education says. “The teachers also identified the development of language and communication skills as important areas.”

Film education contributes in a variety of ways to all of these skills. Pia: “As a medium, film is superbly well-suited to the exploration of emotions, and opening these up to discussion. Whether through recognising emotions in film characters or in yourself. What’s good about discussing films, is that the focus is not – like with ordinary lessons – on language, but on the film.”

“As a medium, film is superbly well-suited to the exploration of emotions, and opening these up to discussion.”

Pia Bechtle, Eye Education


Learning to express yourself

Working on language skills through film gives pupils a positive experience. “Film is a good starting point for discussion. It provides a fun way to practice expressing your opinions, ideas and feelings,” Pia says. In addition, film gets pupils to look at the world from new perspectives. “It takes you out of your familiar, everyday world.”

Film also opens up a new way of expressing yourself, namely in the cinematic language of sound and images. So this was also included in the lessons. “Why are you laughing so much? What is making you sit on the edge of your seat?” Filmmakers use cinematic means such as colour and symbols to tell the story and show emotions. The pupils learn about this too. “In the short film In a Heartbeat, the love between the characters jumps off the screen when a red, beating heart is shown.”

Learning through acting

Through acting assignments, the pupils learn to recognise and show emotions on the basis of facial expressions and body language. As preparation, silent slapstick films were watched, focusing on how actors expressed emotions in 1912 without using spoken words. You can’t hear the actors. How do they make it clear what they are feeling? Pia: “The film teacher explained to the pupils that it was really clever that they understood the story, as the actors had to act out everything in a really exaggerated way to put the emotions across. You can only tell whether an actor is happy or angry from his or her facial expression and body language.”

The pupils then tried it for themselves, by taking on the roles of actors from 1912. Pia: “They acted out short scenes and were asked to think hard about how they can express emotions and depict the situation without saying anything. The other children had to guess what was happening.” Alongside learning to recognise emotions, the pupils were also learning to work together.

Why are you laughing so much? What is making you sit on the edge of your seat?

Successful teaching methods

All the lessons were given by Eye’s film teacher Remco Efdé. Pia: “Because a relationship of trust with the teacher is an important precondition for really connecting with the pupils’ needs.” During the pilot, Eye Education also learned a lot from the pupils. “They presented teaching methods that offer the pupils ways of expressing themselves, alongside verbal communication.

“Using emojis on sticks turned out to be a successful teaching method for discussing emotions in films,” Remco says. “The pupils stuck the emojis onto the sticks themselves and then held them up to show ‘this is what I feel’. They could choose from emojis showing the four basic emotions: angry, sad, scared and happy. This method proved easy to use. You can also get them to state a character’s emotions by giving them an emoji and asking them to talk about it.”


The Eye Education team is always looking for formats that allow pupils to be successfully involved in lessons in a playful and interactive way. An example of this is the Visual Poetry assignment, in which pupils individually make drawings inspired by music. The film teacher then edits these together using a stop-motion app. A simple process for the teacher, which achieves a great result. “The drawn characters come together and dance in a funny way. What’s more, all the pupils see their own input presented in the film.

“You want all your pupils to get something out of the lesson,” says Remco. “This is a nice challenge for you as a film teacher in special education. You want all the pupils to be engaged, from the one who has a tendency towards isolation to the one who’s always loud and very present.”

Another finding was that, when making a film, children get a sense of pride and empowerment when they see the results. Pia underlines this point: “This was particularly clear when pupils watched a scene they themselves had acted in.” We can conclude that film education corresponds to what these pupils in special education need. This makes film education an inclusive artform.

“You want all your pupils to get something out of the lesson.”

Remco Efdé, Eye's film teacher

What next?

The findings from the pilot are being integrated into Eye Education’s offer to the field of special education. The knowledge gained is also being exchanged between Eye Education, teachers and schools in the province of Noord-Holland, as well as with partner bodies. Alongside the lesson series Lights, Camera, … Emotion! for cluster 2 pupils in groups 6,7 and 8, a cinema programme was also tested, and experience was obtained with film education for the youngest cluster 2 pupils. Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the three schools explored the world of film in a playful way using MiniCine (in Dutch), a film machine designed for use in the classroom.


This pilot project was implemented by Eye Education thanks to the award made by Plein C and was made possible by the Cultural Participation Fund and the Province of Noord-Holland as part of CmK3.