THE MERE MENTION of ''summer school'' is enough to give some people the willies, but some local institutions are offering film and video courses that promise to be educational and fun. Here's a sampling of what's cookin' on the summer school menu:
''The Way of the Dream A jungian Journey,'' a film seminar on June 21 sponsored by the Smithsonian's Resident Associate Program at the Natural History Museum's Baird Auditorium. The day-long event includes 20 half-hour films of dream interpretations by Jungian authority Marie-Louise von Franz and discussions led by Jungian analyst Fraser Boa. The program repeats the following day. Cost to RAP members is $125; $150 nonmembers. To register, call 357-3030.
''Language of Film: Narrative Strategies,'' a two-day seminar on the visual and narrative elements. It's taught by author Thomas Schatz at the American Film Institute June 21-22. Schatz, whose books include ''Hollywood Genres'' and ''Old Hollywood/New Hollywood,'' will screen Kiss of the Spider Woman and Rear Window plus clips from Casablanca, Stagecoach, Annie Hall and others. Cost, $70 for AFI members; $90 nonmembers. Call 828-4000.
''Reviewing Movies'' Well, it sounds easy enough, but just try it! This six-session crash course is taught by Davey Marlin-Jones and begins June 24. Cost is $76 for Writer's Center members; $84 nonmembers. Call 654-8664.
''Independent Filmmaking,'' taught by Washington director Paul Wagner, whose 1985 The Stone Carvers captured an Oscar for Best Short Documentary. his 2 1/2-hour course will be offered on June 24 by Open University in the Woodley Park area. Cost is $25. Call 966-9606.
''Acting In Commercials,'' a six-week intensive ''on-camera'' workshop to help local actors get work in the Baltimore-Washington market, begins June 25 at the Film Actors' Workshop in Rockville. Cost $275. Call 762-1164.
''At the Movies,'' a film expedition with American Film Institute associate film programmer Eddie Cockrell and independent filmmaker Robert Mugge, who'll unveil his new, feature-lenth documentary, ''The Return of Ruben Blades'' at the AFI. A question-and-answer period follows at Wolensky's bar in Foggy Bottom. It's July 18. Cost is $16 and includes movie and cocktail. Call 797-5102.
''Great Hollywood Directors: Film Retrospective For VCR Users,'' a six-part, weekly movie appreciation course taught by Washington film critic. Gary arnold. From July 14 through August 18, he'll lead the class in informal, general discussions while examing directors' works and contributions to American cinema. Among the topics included in the 90-minute programs will be Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush and Modern Times; Frank Capra's It Happened One Night and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The course costs $50 for RAP members; $65 for nonmembers. (Some individual classes may be available). Call 357-3030.
For nearly four decades Sheilah Graham filed her nationally syndicated column "Hollywood Today" from Tinsel Town, each day giving movie fans an inside lok at the people and the politics that made fantasy land possible. On Tuesday evening at 8, Graham makes a rare public appearance in a lecture at Baird Auditorium. Graham, who lived with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald during his final years, has written 11 books, including Beloved Infidel, the story of her relationship with Fitzgerald. The story was made into a film in 1959 and starred Gregory Peck, Deborah Kerr and Eddie Albert. Tuesday's program is sponsored by the Smithsonian Resident Associate Progam and costs $7 for members; $9 for nonmembers. Call 357-3030 for reservations.
If you haven't seen all three pictures in George Lucas' "Star Wars" trilogy, this is the weekend to go for broke and still not spend a bundle. Starting at 4:30 on Saturday and Sunday, the American Film Institute offers a special triple bill beginning with the one that started at all in 1977, Star Wars, with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing. The come the 1979 The Empire Strikes Back and the 1983 Return of the Jedi. There'll be ten-minute breaks between each flick, and movie goers are invited to bring a bag lunch. Admission to all three films is $6 for members; $7 guests of members; and $8 nonmembers. Call 785-4600 or 785-4601.
The Sidwell Cinema opens its fifth summer season on Friday with Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 thriller, Rope, featuring James Stewart, Farley Granger and Cedric Hardwicke. For the next eight weeks the 400-seat repertory cinema will screen such films as Desperately Seeking Susan (June 19-21), Vertigo (July 1-3), and the French-made Breathless. On July 15 & 16, the Sidwell Cinema will present its annual baby-boomer special, the "Great American Nostalgia Festival," with such hard-to-find items as Nixon's Checkers Speech, an interview with James Dean, a 1943 film clip featuring singer Kate Smith from God Bless America. In early August the theater will show all of the 1985 Cleo Awards, given for the msot creative and imaginative commercials. Films rotate every two or three days at 3901 Wisconsin Avenue NW, with two screenings nightly through August 10. All seats are $3.50; the Friends Cafe opens 30 minutes before showtime. For a schedule, call 537-8178.