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We don't just color in Art Departments

The Value of Arts Education as it pertains to the NACE Core Competencies

Number 1: Communication

For those just joining this conversation, what are the NACE Core Competencies, in short they are 8 skill sets that both employers from a wide spectrum of economic sectors along with colleges and universities identified as key to successful careers for 21st century college graduates.

As a film teacher it is my opinion, which I will try to make a case for or at least shed light is that maybe a key to raising success and retention rates in community colleges and beyond is not simply in creating an easy-to-follow path of classes, but also digging in deeper to identify what the students like. I personally need to keep tally on how many a students a year come to my program from other majors and say, "this is what I've always wanted to do." Trust me when I tell you this as a film major myself I learned more about running a business, teaching a class, and managing events from my time in film production classes and in the field as a filmmaker. It's what we do as creatives, we are natural problem solvers. We work from blank canvases and create something, let that sink in.

There's a thought that among students that you can only transfer based on a your community college degree, well that's not always the case and not the case here in California. All a student needs to transfer to a 4-year university is what is known here as the golden four classes, English 101, Critical Thinking, Transfer level Math, and lab science, plus the appropriate GPA, and at least 60 units, that’s it. Essentially, you could get into Med School with a degree in the Arts or Film ( You just need the right science's and required GPA.

So back to my original point about film and media education as an option for students. If a student is interested in a subject the chances are they will do well. Studying what you enjoy gives you momentum as you start college, earn some awesome grades learning subjects you’re in interested in, and you just may find your strengths. College is about discovery, let’s promote that.

In Film, TV, and Media, communication is everything. Everything we do in film and media is to develop and master means of communication. This is not only on your screen or audio platform of choice, but before we get to that level, we have to write it down. We must talk to our collaborators on what, how, and why we want to communicate. Let’s take for example my department’s FTVM 130 Survey of TV Studio and Film Production class essentially. Often students in this class work on a variety of projects all geared towards content that will be seen and heard. This process starts with me as the professor laying some groundwork on the projects. Then we as the class will develop concepts around those projects. For instance, last semester in the fall of 2021, we were asked by our campuses’ culinary department, whom by the way run an awesome restaurant on our campus called the Sunroom. (If you’re ever at San Bernardino Valley College, I highly recommend stopping there for lunch.) Sorry for the digression, but it’s a blog, welcome to my world. The culinary department needs promotional videos for their program, and we were all too happy to oblige. Keep in mind this class is made up of primarily first year or returning to college students with little to know experience with the creation of video content. The first thing we had to do was research and report. Who is the culinary department, what do they do, why is it a program to check out if you’re a student, and how can we best communicate these ideas? The students under my guidance came up with a concept that focused on a documentary approach of questions to a couple of interview subjects the chef in charge of the program and one of her students.

To pull this off students had to communicate through email and conversations with the Chef. They had to communicate with each other to coordinate when to film and they had to communicate on and develop a consensus on theme and tone of the videos. Of course, communication continues through production in how they interview the subject, talk to one another on set, and what footage gathered is good for post-production. As you can see from the point of conception through the point of post-production there is a continuous chain of communication that this class promotes and maintains for the students to meet their learning objectives.

In some disciplines this core competency is a soft skill but for film and media students it’s something they are graded on. Their measure of class success is based on how they communicate. Thus, take a film class your future employer will thank you for it later!

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