Autobiography in the A Level Psychology Classroom
There are numerous videos on You Tube, and other free video sites, that are worth using in the A Level Psychology classroom. Showing a video can be a good way to provide an explanation of a theory or outline of an area of research, especially when the presenter is the person behind the research. When you stumble across a video that is not intended to educate in the traditional sense however, but instead aims to share a story the value as a learning resource can sometimes be even greater.
Autobiographical videos shared by ordinary people with extraordinary stories are engaging and act as a good stimulus for discussion. I stumbled across a couple which have great learning potential in the A level Psychology classroom.
Living with Narcolepsy
If you are teaching Biological Rhythms and Sleep (AQA A, A2, Unit 3) as one of your “topics” in A2 Psychology what could be more engaging than teaching students about Sleep Disorders using a first-hand account of what it is like to live with the clinical characteristics of the condition.
“Living with cataplexy and narcolepsy” (posted on You Tube) is a powerful but conveniently short video (3:08 minutes) explaining exactly what having Narcolepsy is really like. The video gives an overview of the main symptoms, the misconceptions about the condition and the impact of the symptoms on the individual and those around them. Shared with the intention to raise awareness of the condition (told by the individual with Narcolepsy and his carer), this is a real story worth seeing and hearing. I find that students are quite shocked when they watch this, as there is a big difference between reading a list of clinical characteristics and seeing the effect of these on another human being. This video is a good way to introduce the condition before looking at the explanations of the disorder.
Out of body experience
If you have selected Anomalistic Psychology as your choice for Unit 4’s Psychology in Action section, the simply titled “Out-of-body experience” (posted on You Tube) is another useful first-hand account worth using in the classroom. This time, as the title suggests, the subject of the video is a man’s own perceived experience of having left his physical body. The whole video (approx 9 minutes in length) is shot depicting simply the man’s face talking to the camera which gives the impression to the viewer that this man is sharing a secret with only you; as he describes his experience in such detail it is almost impossible to resist conjuring up a visual image of his experience. When I used this video, however, I opted to only use the audio in order to use this as a listening task as well as an introduction to the concept. I asked students to imagine that this was happening to them and discuss how they might feel about it and how they might makes sense of it. Once students had learnt about the various explanations of this experience I asked the students to write a “post” in response to his video (they didn’t actually post them) selecting one, or more, of the explanations they had learned about.