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What Hollywood Has Taught Us About Teachers

What Hollywood Has Taught Us About Teachers

Throughout popular culture history, Hollywood has depicted a myriad of teachers for movie and television screens. To name a few: Mr. Chips, Ms. Honey, Mr. Feeney, Mr. Keating, and more.

An article on NPR looked at this trend and explained what the movies have taught us about teaching.

“You know the type: hard-working, earnest, and most of all, inspirational,” the article said. “And they're all that while confronting — because Hollywood never does anything halfway — the sort of challenge that would give pause to a miracle worker.”

NPR looks at The Miracle Workers Annie Sullivan who “had to get through to a kicking, biting, almost feral Helen Keller (Patty Duke), who had been deaf and blind since infancy.”

“With only a few gestures to signal what she wants, 7-year-old Helen has no way to communicate with those around her, and initially, no concept of language itself. Her breakthrough comes in what amounts to a ferocious battle with Annie at a backyard water pump, where she suddenly realizes that the motions her teacher has been making in the palm of her hand connect to the movement of Annie's lips,’ the article said.

Most onscreen teachers, the article said, “confront more conventional students and forge bonds with them over more conventional problems: kids who don't think they want to learn ... who mistrust authority ... who are bored ... and who inspire teachers like Robin Williams in 1989's Dead Poets Society to climb on his desk and find other unorthodox ways to enliven classwork.”

“This gets him in trouble with the headmaster, and that's pretty much a standard Hollywood plot development,” the article said. “Teachers who care — and you wouldn't make a film about them if they didn't — must not only relate to students, but must also shield them from their own parents, from school administrators, from the police and from social forces that lead them to not value education in the first place.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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