Acclaimed English teacher and author Yvette Krohn describes The Matrix as the best film ever made.
“I was first introduced to philosophy in an authentic context when I watched The Matrix in 1999. I had little to no knowledge of formal philosophy, but the ideas contained within the film resonated with me. I had no choice but to explore them in more detail.”
This journey of discovery through the philosophies of Descartes, Plato, Socrates, Foucault, Nietzsche and Baudrillard, among others, led Yvette to incorporate philosophy, psychology and sociology into the English curriculum, primarily through the medium of film.
Yvette teaches high-level thinking courses, including gifted and talented education, extension and scholarship classes.
Thinking skills must be explored in an authentic context or they have limited use, she says. Immersing students in a “thinking world” requires exploring the world through the vessel of philosophy.
“Today, so many films are underpinned by major philosophical ideas. This accessible and authentic context engages students and makes the ideas relevant to them.”
Book 8 of Yvette’s latest series Making Connections was published by Essential Resources this month. The book uses the American dream theme to help students make connections in a meaningful way.
“Connections can be in the form of their own lives, the world around them, or the various media and text forms that surround students.”
Yvette says students’ thinking skills are enhanced through constant challenge – examining a situation through different viewpoints or lenses, listening to and evaluating new ideas, and by creating new pathways and visions.
“These skills add depth and perspective to any situation and give students the ability to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and points of reference.”
Yvette, whose contribution to teaching was recognised with a Woolf Fisher Fellowship in 2015, loves seeing the effect learning thinking skills has on students’ engagement in class.
“I love seeing their excitement when they realise their own opinion matters, and as long as they can substantiate their opinion with evidence or reasoning, their viewpoint is valid and justified. This realisation is empowering.”
Yvette Krohn (now Krohn-Isherwood) has been teaching English for more than 25 years. She has had a raft of management positions, including faculty head of languages, HOD English and assistant principal and has been a lecturer of communications and learning styles at Lincoln University, as well as an English facilitator for team solutions at the University of Auckland. Yvette’s teaching was recognised with a Woolf Fisher Fellowship for 2015. She is the current President of NZATE and a member of the NZQA EGA – Expert Group Assessment.