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Models of Teaching: Let's Go to The Movies

Stephen Hurley Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Few of us would deny the importance that the media has played in the formation of the cultural images and imaginings that we hold. I suspect that most of us have seen one or two films that feature a particular view of school and of teachers.

I would love to hear about some of the media representations of teaching that have affected your image of what life in the classroom is, or could be, all about?

Was it Sidney Poitier's depiction of Mark Thackeray in the film "To Sir With Love". Perhaps it was Nick Nolte as Alex Jurel in the movie "Teachers". Did Michelle Pfeiffer as English teacher LouAnne Johnson in Dangerous Minds resonate with you?

Movies, books and t.v. programs are rich with teaching imagery. Which characters have been most compelling to you?

Stephen

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I'm a writing teacher in Kansas City

Influential Teachers

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I think any English teacher out there who told you they weren't influenced by Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society would be lying. My generation especially connected with his revolutionary attitude and emotional style. We all wanted to be teachers after watching that film. We all wanted to seize the day!

Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Re: Influential Teachers

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Hi Steve,

Thanks for jumping into this thread with a great film suggestion.

Digging deeper: What was it about John Keating's character that you found to be inspirational or influential? Keating certainly tried to challenge some of the assumptions that we make about school and enabled students to think beyond the four pillars of Tradition, Honour, Discipline and Excellence to find something different about themselves.

What are the challenges that you face in working to become the teacher you want to be? What successes have you had in this regard?

Would love to hear more!

stephen

I'm a writing teacher in Kansas City

Mr. Keating

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Quote:

What was it about John Keating's character that you found to be inspirational or influential?...
What are the challenges that you face in working to become the teacher you want to be? What successes have you had in this regard?

I think the most important thing with Keating was his juxtaposition to the institution he represented. Much like Richard Dreyfus's Mr. Holland in comparison to William H. Macy's hard-nosed principal, Keating shows that even in the midst of a seemingly immovable establishment important change can be introduced. In his case, it was the personal connection to students and the power and value of the self. Somehow he managed to be Howard Roark and Henry Higgins at the same time: celebrating the individual's power but showing an altruistic belief in all.

Science Teacher from the Capital District Region, New York

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For a project in a curriculum development grad course, I had to look for educational narratives and relate it with a personal teaching biography. While scrounging through the public library's DVD archives, I came across "A Touch of Greatness", a documentary film on a 5th grade teacher, Mr. Cullum, who taught during the 1950s and 1960s in New York. He talked about his experiences being an outcast in the school system, for teaching in radical new ways that deviated from the traditional didactic methods. It hit home for me because he talked about issues like differentiation, incorporating play and imagination and how standardization inhibits creativity for teachers and students alike... which,I think, is still one of the greatest barriers today for teachers. Anyways, I recommend the movie.

Olmos as Escalante

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"Stand and Deliver" -- which is about as good as the book it's based on.

Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Re: A Touch Of Greatness

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Thanks for the recommendation, Cheska. I've just ordered the film from Amazon. Looking forward to receiving and viewing it!

I also found a PBS site based on the film:

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/touchofgreatness/index.html

stephen

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