Stranger Things than a passion for media theory

by Guest Blogger, 09 November 2018

John Hibbert, OCR's Subject Advisor for Media and Film Studies, shares his lifelong passion for the topic and an obsession with a certain retro television series.

John Hibbert

I began teaching in 2006 and in my first year I taught the predecessor to the legacy OCR A Level and GCSE Media Studies, and the first incarnation of the Level 2 Cambridge National in Media.

During my time in teaching, I taught a wide range of Media qualifications at GCSE, A Level, and a number of vocational level 2 and 3 qualifications. In addition, from 2013 I offered A Level Film Studies as an extracurricular class, which I found especially rewarding.

Supporting students in being able to analyse the role of popular culture in society and in the production of creative work is one of the most fulfilling aspects of teaching these subjects. I am keenly aware that the demands of the new specifications will bring challenges for both teachers and students. That’s why I am determined to do everything I can to support teachers in their delivery of these qualifications. I want to ensure students can achieve and enjoy in Media and Film Studies.

“I am incredibly passionate about Media and Film Studies.  So passionate in fact that I spent seven years in higher education studying it”

After completing my degree in Film and Literature at the University of Warwick, I did an MA in Film Studies at UEA, and then a PhD at Warwick focusing on issues of genre and identity in contemporary cinema. Perhaps as a result I find media theory more exciting than most people.

I always found the collaborative nature of the community of media teachers so helpful, and resources generously shared by my colleagues online saved me many hours of planning and worry over the years. I was always very keen to reciprocate, and shared my teaching resources online through various outlets (listed below). I am very much looking forward to continuing to contribute to this community in a different role as Subject Advisor at OCR.

As a Stranger Things obsessive I thoroughly enjoyed teaching it for the Long Form TV Drama topic. I am possibly one more binge-watch away from writing Stranger Things fan fiction whilst wearing a Hawkins AV Club t-shirt (which at least would have allowed me to illustrate Jenkins’ theories of fandom), and the students were almost as enthusiastic as I was.

Cambridge Family Film FestivalPairing Stranger Things with Deutschland 83 worked really well in my previous teaching experience, not least because both media texts are set in 1983 but represent that time period in very different ways. After some initial confusion as to which was East and West Germany, students found the text accessible, which Hesmondhalgh would probably say was due to its repetition of established spy thriller conventions. Currently I’m looking at our CPD provision for next year, and am aiming to ensure we have a comprehensive programme of support for all elements of the Media and Film qualifications through both face-to-face sessions and webinars.

I particularly enjoyed meeting teachers at the BFI Media Conference, where I delivered a Specification Support Workshop for A Level Media and Film. It was also brilliant to see Cambridge Assessment's support for the Cambridge Family Film Festival this year, which aims to ignite a passion for film in young children (a couple pictured right after seeing a sponsored screening of My Neighbour Totoro).

I’m very eager to hear from any Media and Film teachers so if you have any questions about OCR’s Media and Film qualifications please do get in touch via email or on Twitter - @OCR_Media_Film

John Hibbert
Subject Advisor, Media and Film Studies, OCR

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