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Should the Teaching Profession Be Worried About How Hollywood Portrays It?

Should the Teaching Profession Be Worried About How Hollywood Portrays It?

According to a recent article from the New York Times, the archetypes that Hollywood uses to define the teaching profession could be damaging its chances of recruiting people into it.

"The persistence of these stock depictions of educators speaks to a widespread anxiety about what schools can or should accomplish, as well as 'our cultural confusion about teachers,' said Robert Bulman, a professor of sociology at St. Mary’s College of California and the author of 'Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture,’” to the Times.

Pedagogy, critics say, rarely makes its way into Hollywood’s depiction of teachers. If it does, it’s typically to fuel the same tired story of renegade teacher using tactics never tried before to help lower-income minority students succeed.

"Movies and television rarely show teachers, well, teaching. All kinds of professions, from police work to law to medicine, are routinely distorted in popular culture. But for the most part, competence rather than charisma is seen as a prerequisite for success in those fields,” the Times said.

The article speculates that this contributes to a negative view of pay and working conditions, which ultimately discourages young people from wanting to pursue teaching altogether.

Specifically, the article makes reference to newer TV shows like TV Land’s 'Teachers' and truTV’s 'Those Who Can’t.' 'Teachers', specifically, has been constantly criticized for relying on tropes for laughs- although the show was created with some serious input from none other than a former teacher.

But it also looks at older movies and shows- 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and 1950’s Blackboard Jungle- to find that Hollywood stereotypes of the profession haven’t really changed or evolved that much.

Although some see this as a cause for concern, indicating that not taking teaching seriously is an age-old problem, one teacher believes it’s for the best.

Middle school teacher Dennis Cardwell quipped to the Times, “If a film could actually show how hard teaching one would become a teacher.”

Teachers, Education World would like to know: What do you think about TV shows and movies that focus on teachers/teaching?

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


What do you think about most TV shows and movies that focus on teachers/teaching?

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