Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The image of a teacher as a romantic rebel in narrative film Gazetas, Aristides 1992

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_1992_fall_gazetas_aristides.pdf [ 4.4MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0086220.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0086220-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0086220-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0086220-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0086220-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0086220-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0086220-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0086220-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0086220.ris

Full Text

THE IMAGE OF A TEACHERAS A ROMANTIC REBEL IN NARRATIVE FILMbyARISTIDES GAZETASB.A. City College of New York, 1953M.F.A. Boston University, 1956A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Visual and Performing Arts)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJune 1992© Aristides Gazetas, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Department of Ai2r 54) tio,477 The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateDE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTSix narrative films were selected for this study to investigate theimage of a teacher as a Romantic rebel. In each of these films, thecentral character is portrayed as a school teacher coming intoconflict with traditional educational pedagogies that involvestudent learning and discipline. Each film is reviewed andevaluated within the framework of the romantic-humanist theory ofeducation or the transformational orientation. Three major pointsare covered in each review. First, the thematic concerns arespecified that follow the romantic, ideological constructs of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on education. Second, the directorial skills arenoted in visualizing settings and characters that illustrate theconflicts between the romantically-oriented teachers and tradition-bound educational system. Third, the psychological effects of thefilms on viewers are described which may influence publicperception of the teaching profession. Background informationconcerning the nature of formula-driven genre films and thedevelopment of the New Wave movement in film production isprovided. A brief historical survey of changes in curriculum andinstruction also is given. The study concluded that the image ofthe teacher as a Romantic rebel in these narrative films is apositive one. Romantic-minded teachers are portrayed as liberatorswho individually make a difference in the traditional educationalsystem by showing care and trust towards students.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSPage ABSTRACT^  iiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS^  ivCHAPTER ONE^Introduction - Film Images, Narrative Formand Teachers ^1The Proposition ^6The Argument ^6The Evidence ^8The Implications^  11The Significance  12CHAPTER TWO^Review of Related literature ^ 13Conclusions^  29CHAPTER THREE The Historical Background on CurriculumDevelopment and Change^  32Group One - Primary schools during the 1930s ^ 35Group Two - Private schools during the 1950s ^ 44Group Three - Inner-city high schools duringthe 1970s and 1980s. ^ 49CHAPTER FOUR^Images of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Filmsof the 1930s^  54Sylvia (1984)  62Why Shoot the Teacher? (1976) ^ 65CHAPTER FIVE^Images of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Filmsof the 1950s^  71IF... (1968) ^73Dead Poets Society (1989)^  80CHAPTER SIX^Images of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Filmsof the 1980s^  90Teachers (1984)  91Stand and Deliver (1988)^  98CHAPTER SEVEN The Power of Film Images  106Conclusions^  108REFERENCES^  116ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank the following individuals who gave me supportand timely assistance in my graduate education: Dr. GraemeChalmers, my committee chairman, for his thoughtful guidance andsensitive instruction; Dr. Neil Sutherland, for his patience, keencriticism and sober judgments; and Dr. Charles Ungerleiter, for hisenthusiasm and interest in this thesis.I would also like to express my gratitude and appreciation to myfamily, especially my wife, Mary, for her love, her encouragementand support of this project.1CHAPTER ONEFilm Images, Narrative Form and TeachersIntroductionAs the 21st century approaches, educators have alreadyrecognized the powerful influence communication media have over theperception of ourselves and our world, especially through narrativefilms and television. For nearly a century, films have communicatedvalues, beliefs and attitudes which were part of the social fabricof this society. In North America, most of these films carriedwithin them hidden ideological constructs that supported thedominant Western ideology of the United States. The film images ofmen and women were created by the "old" Hollywood style of film-making using formula-driven genre films. These genre films,whether a Western or a musical, a screwball comedy or a gangsterfilm, produced certain stereotypical characters in a predictablestory line employing familiar visual conventions and icons tosupport the beliefs and expectations of the audience. The narrativeelements of plot, setting and character were visualized by a filmdirector into a series of melodramatic conflicts that were resolvedby the restoration of law and order through violence, or thejoining of the man and woman in marriage rites. These genres oforder or of integration helped the viewing audiences connectspecific actions and attitudes in character relationships. Theexpected or desired resolution of the conflict led to variations onthe "happy ending" narrative strategy. In this manner, filmnarratives re-enforced social and political values, and the shared2beliefs of the community. Role-playing depicted in these filmnarratives indirectly influenced social behavior (Schatz, 1976,pp.21-22).Hollywood genre films of the 1930s and 1940s also becamevalued works of cinematic art for a group of French New Wavedirectors, especially Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. Intheir first feature films, Godard's Breathless (1961),andTruffaut's The 400 Blows (1959), they made the genre conventions ofHollywood films "self-conscious" to the audience. By paying hommageto the gangster heroes of yesterday, they used the cinematiciconography and conventions of Hollywood genre films to reveal theway myths, fairy-tales and fables shaped audience expectations.Through a playful mixture of documentary-style cinema withina loosely structured plot, that emphasized the existential natureof character within a given environment, Truffaut and Godard arguedfor the total aesthetic "artworld" of film because film coulddirectly influence the experiential "reality" of the audience.Cinematic realism to them was just another set of artisticconventions to be included among others they used to draw anaudience into the film narrative.The New Wave scripts, some written by Truffaut, brought intoquestion contradictions about the nature of "heroes" as they hadbeen depicted on the screen. A "self-consciousness" arose from ajuxtaposition of images based upon Hollywood screen "heroes" withTruffaut's characters who were defeated attempting to shape their3lives like the Hollywood model. The result was a parody whichdemonstrated that one's identity was distorted when it wasconnected to an illusory image and was not grounded in one's ownreality.Moreover, the scripts were open-ended. They did not seek aresolution to the conflict. In this manner, Truffaut, as director,admitted that the social issues confronting an individual in anadvanced technological society can be ambiguous and contradictory.There were no easy solutions to the problems faced by theprotagonist as had been previously framed by the formula-drivenconventions of genre films.Directly associated with this movement towards the"deconstruction" of the myths controlling this society, was theawareness of a need for the "reconstruction" of myths within aframework of a common humanity among all citizens. The new Frenchfilm-makers began to question all value systems with regard to the"liberation" of the individual from the stereotypes and "livingcliches" of the dominant society. The New Wave films emphasizedcharacter over plot and presented images from a subjective point-of-view. The essential plot is a struggle of the individual againstthe authoritative and repressive social and political order. Herereality is presented based upon the Existentialist notion ofcontingency, of chance happenings which affected the psychologicalordering of the world for each person. Thus the emotional world ofexperience becomes central to their protagonist.4Godard and Truffaut employed neo-realist techniques of filmmaking using on-location shooting with available light. The scriptswere loosely structured to take advantage of unpredictablesituations that tended towards improvisational film-making. Non-actors were used except for male and female leads. Every effortwas made to transform "reality" into a documentary statement. Thusstories revolved around the exploration of character, and theforces or ideologies that shaped the character's identity. Thefilms had a more episodic amd disjointed manner of editing, toparallel the growing sense of turmoil between the "ordered society"and its conflicts with a disruptive and rebellious "anti-hero". Inaddition, the directors juxtaposed images related to older genrefilms with their own documentary footage.In this study of the image of a teacher as a Romantic rebel,each film director was influenced by New Wave production techniquesas a way to explore the myths that have arisen about teachers andtheir respective roles in contrast to the image of teacherstraditionally portrayed in genre films and novels. The sixnarrative films selected range from images of teachers in primaryschools of the 1930s to inner-city high schools teachers of the1980s.The six films examined in this study depict a new image of theteacher, as "anti-hero" and an individual who is more realistic andhumane. The teacher is concerned about development of the self-worth of each student as well as the development of learning skills5and interests in self-expression. This study also describes howteacher-images of characters in the chosen narrative films strugglewith formula-driven curriculum from an out-moded educationalsystem. Each drama exposes the major conflict between the teacherand the school system. The plot then illustrates how these teachersintroduce a learning strategy that properly directs the student tolearning in terms of personal interests. In this way, the teacherreplaces the transmissional educational practice with atransformational orientation. Thus, the image of a teacher as aRomantic rebel in these six narrative films demonstrates toviewers how these teachers can reach out to students and providethem with vital learning experiences that are positive andproductive within any public school environment.Teachers are a primary force in an public educational systemdesigned to serve the needs of a changing society. Today, theirrole as mediators of culture is necessary to off-set thedistortions and fabrications produced by the self-interestedmanipulators of reality who exploit the media world. Teachers alsocan provide the foundations for a critical self-examination bystudents of the myths that come into schools from the outsideworld. The positive images of teachers in narrative films thenbecome important since the continuation of previous stereotypicalimages not only damages the teaching profession, but also makeproblematic the reasons to support public education in a democracy.6PropositionThe thesis being proposed for consideration in this study isthat a selection of contemporary narrative films, each based uponreal-life teaching experiences, can present to the viewingaudiences images of teachers as counselors, directors andfacilitators of rewarding student-centered learning experiences.To support this proposition, an analysis and evaluation of sixdifferent narrative films are given as evidence of transformationalteaching strategies. Teachers are portrayed as helpful contributorsin the development of a social, emotional and intellectual learningenvironment by thoughtful attention to each student's interests,drives and personal achievements.^Promotion of discovery andcreativity are supported to provide opportunities for personaldecision-making and moral formation of each student.ArgumentMy research considers the image of the teacher in sixcontemporary narrative films each set in different historicaltimes. In each of these films, the central character depicted is aschool teacher in conflict with the traditional function ofeducation --- to transmit a particular set of facts, skills andvalues to students. Each narrative film presents two differentteaching methodologies or strategies coming into conflict with eachother. Knowledge is generated about the present and the past, andis generally assumed to be relatively stable but external to the7learner. Learning occurs in predictable ways when students breakdown content and reorganize it in ways for efficient delivery andtesting. Less concerned with transmission of knowledge, theprogressive or transformational position focuses on a developmentalconception of learning where prior knowledge and intellectualpotential are promoted through emphasis on personal forms ofinquiry, innovation and thought about content. Both representativetypes of teachers are concerned with what students must learn sothat they can function as responsible citizens in a democratic,pluralistic society, and with what should be taught and why.I will argue that the central character in each of thesenarrative films is a teacher following the romantic-humanistphilosophy of education as espoused by Progressive educators of thetwentieth century. They each demonstrate a transformationalposition (Miller & Seller 1990), a belief that a child's schoollife ought to be guided by his or her own personal interest andgoals in a learning situation (p.143) when teaching in the primaryand secondary schools. These teachers are depicted promotingmethods that are contextual, where learning is founded upon caringand trust. Further, I will argue that in each of these narrativefilms the teacher/anti-hero becomes a role-model that promotesempathy and identification for the teacher as a Romantic rebel. Theimage of this teacher becomes one who knowingly is responsible forstimulating curiosity and interest in students and new ways ofpromoting a child's self-image and self-development.8EvidenceThere are six films under analysis: all are based upon real-life experiences of the central protagonist as recalled inbiographies and novels. The films are reviewed and analyzed inpairs for comparison and contrast. The first pair of films involvesyoung teachers assigned to primary schools during the Depressionof the 1930s. One is Sylvia. which is set in a rural town in NewZealand. The other film, Why Shoot the Teacher?, takes place in aone-room school house on the Prairies in rural Saskatchewan,Canada.The second pair of films relates curriculum and instructionin two similar yet tradition-bound preparatory schools during thepost-Sputnik Cold War decade of the early 1960s. The locale forthe film entitled IF... is outside London, England. The secondfilm, Dead Poets Society, is located in Vermont, New England, Thethird pair of films involves high school students and theirrespective teachers working in large inner-city high schools in theUnited States. Most of the students come from minority groups. Thefilms are entitled Teachers and Stand and Deliver. Except forIF..., all the films have been produced in the 1980s. IF... wasproduced in the late 1960s in England, a product of the 'AngryYoung Man' theatre group led by Lindsay Anderson and TonyRichardson.In relation to the concept of a teacher as Romantic rebel, Iwill employ a framework for the analysis of these films thatfollows an educational philosophy derived from the ideas of Jean-9Jacques Rousseau. As summarized by Randall, Rousseau's theoriessuggest that"the natural man is not a rational thinker, judging everythingby its usefulness to himself and his fellows, but rather a manof passion and feeling. Intelligence and reason, he believed,are largely the products of social environment, an environmentthat seizes upon the plastic nature of the child and distortsit by pressing it into a traditional mould that must remainalien to it" (Randall, 1940, pp. 401-402).In Emile: A Treatise on Education (1762), Rousseau states"Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the author ofnature; but everything degenerates in the hands of man." Furtherhe states, "Our wisdom is slavish prejudice, our customs consist incontrol, constraint, complusion. Civilized man is born, lives anddies in a state of slavery; All his life long man is imprisoned byour institutions." (Rousseau, Emile, trans. Foxley, (1911), p. 10)In expounding the real aim of education, Rousseau advocatedthe natural, free development of the child derived from his/her ownnature, his/her own powers, and his/her own natural inclinations.This respect for the child as an individual led Rousseau to statethat "Every means has been tried except one, the very one whichmight succeed --- well-regulated liberty" ( p.46).As Randall notes, Rousseau's Romanticism was a reactionarymovement against the all too narrow construction of humanexperience in terms of reason. By arguing that life is greater than1 0a "vast mechanical order", the romantic view of the world "appealedto the whole breath and expanse of man's experience" (Randall,p.399).During the 1920s, the "lost" generation of writers andbohemians found solace in reviving many of the essential tenets ofRomanticism. Malcolm Cowley summarized them in his novel, Exile's Return, (1976, p. 60) as follows:1. The idea of salvation of the child - A new educational systemshould be introduced that encourages the development of eachpersonality. A child should not slowly be crushed by astandardized society and mechanical methods of learning.2. The idea of self-expression - The realization of one's ownidentity through creative and expressive work.3. The idea of paganism - The ritual of love should be unfetteredby moral prescriptions.4. The idea of living for the moment - Better to seize the momentas it comes, to dwell in it intensely, even at the cost offuture suffering. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...5. The idea of liberty - Laws, rules and conventions or waysof thinking that prevent self-expression or the full enjoymentof life should be shattered and destroyed, especially conceptsof the child as evil and in need of salvation.6. The idea of equality - For women as well as men, societyshould provide equal opportunities for life experiences.7. The idea of changing place - Breaking away and liberating one-1 1self from the confinements of societal rules and findingplaces to breathe freely and openly.The framework of film analysis and criticism will alsoencompass and explore various directorial techniques, the visualmetaphors and myths incorporated in the narrative as well as thepsychological impact the films have upon the viewer. In addition,the depiction of the "reality" of the teacher as a Romantic rebelwill be attempted. There will also be a focus upon the historicaldimensions within a social and political framework as they reflectand reveal the concerns of the society in which they were produced.ImplicationsBy contrasting and comparing two different conceptions ofteaching, these films emphasize the romantic-humanist orientationof the teachers to the traditional curriculum. Moreover, each filmmakes the audience aware that the implementation of each mode ofteaching is founded upon two powerful belief systems of educationand learning. One belief focuses upon two different functions ofeducation in our society. The transmission position stresses atextbook, subject-related orientation to knowledge and learning. Itis characterized by the acquisition of certain cultural values andbasic skills which reproduce particular views on the way societyfunctions. Its main objective is to re-enforce the status quo. Thetransformation position stresses a vision towards social change bypromoting individual development and growth within a changing12society. It is grounded upon the belief that a democratic societyfunctions for the benefit of its citizens. Thus, the ways ofdemocracy and methods of power sharing in a changing society areinterrelated. These films appear to promote anideological/political construct that associates "good teachingpractices" with the romantic-humanist philosophies of education.SignificanceThe primary objective of this study is to discover andevaluate the ways and means narrative films communicate knowledgeand information about the social and political beliefs of oursociety. Another goal is to assess the role narrative films play incommunicating a romantic-humanist curriculum to different groups ofteachers and students in a variety of school environments. Offurther significance is the contribution these particular filmshave in moulding public opinion, influencing attitudes, andcreating myths about teachers and educators in our pluralisticsociety. To what degree are we, as viewers, influenced by suchportrayal of teachers as role-models, if at all?13CHAPTER TWOA Review of Related LiteratureWriters and researchers have examined the image of a teacheras portrayed in 19th and 20th century Canadian and English novels.The following review includes the most recent studies on the imageof teachers in literature since 1968. Of the five theses, only one(Crume, 1988) considered the image of the teacher in films producedin the 1980s in comparision with novels written in the same period,Each study conducted an investigation into the stereotypical imagesof teachers in relation to the myths and legends portrayed innovels and films. They all focus on the social and politicalfactors that contribute to the role of a teacher and theireducational methods. The other studies,(Ezor, 1969); (Oster, 1972);(Enger, 1974); and (Zellhofer, 1980) all selected novels for theirportraits of teachers.Edwin L. Ezor (1969) studied the image of the teacher in 241"college" novels from 1900 to 1960 in relation to the major socio-political and intellectual changes and developments in the UnitedStates. His study follows the evolution of this fictional teacheras these changes reflect the "science-dominated Zeitgeist of thetwentieth century" (p.435). These representations of teachers seemto show persons with shared values and world views characteristicof the average real-life American.Ezor traced this evolution from the religious scepticismexhibited by aristocratic Ivy League college professors in the1900s to the gradual rise of self-seeking middle-class professors14serving in diverse colleges throughout the country when collegesgrew in size and diversity. Over this sixty-year period radicalchanges in beliefs, attitudes and values are recounted in thosenovels that alter and change the image of the teacher. Varioussocial and economic changes were related to various crises faced bythe fictional teachers that arose from moral and philosophicalshifts in the passage of time.The novels Ezor selected revealed that numerous dilemmas andchanging crises faced by the fictional teachers were mostly aresult of socio-political influences outside the domain of thecollege community. These images ranged from the intellectual andmoral doctrines advanced by professors before the First World War,followed by the radical shift to atheism during the 1920s, to theeconomic failures of capitalism and the search for other economicsystems during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The Allies fightagainst the forces of totalitarianism during a grim Second WorldWar concluded with the use of the Atomic bomb in 1945. A sense ofpessimism and a growing distrust of all ethical dogma pervaded thepost-war years in the United States.When individual teachers are examined in these novels, theyare shown answering specific challenges that cut across social anddomestic life on the college campus. Rank, salary and theimportant doctorate and subsequent publications become topicsinfluencing their teaching and relationships to students. The majorcharacters in these novels are humanities teachers who teach15English or social studies. However, they are seen as fighting alosing battle against the changes in curriculum wrought bycommercial and big-business interests in the curriculum. When theteachers challenge these interest-groups, they are apt to belabelled as "radical" or "Red". Thus a major theme of academicfreedom emerges from the later novels in his study.The authors followed a general narrative pattern byportraying major teacher-characters as exceptional lecturers witha particular charisma which succeeds in stimulating students. Ezorbelieves that these teacher-images are derived from a basicromantic idealism of what a teacher ought to be. As secondarycharacters in the novels, teachers are depicted with values andbehaviours which are considered as those of the average real-lifeteacher by the authors.In the student-centered novels of college life in the 1920s,the teacher's own romantic liaisons became a major theme. Specialinterest was upon novels of upward social mobility which had moralyoung men winning over upper-class young ladies despite social andeconomic obstacles.Romanticism also flourished in the period of the 1930s amongthe harsh social realities of the Depression. Novels also dealtseriously with academic freedom not only in the 1930s but again inthe 1950s during the McCarthy red-baiting era. Teachers werestamped as political radicals involved with anti-Americanpolitical forces such as Communism and Fascism. As an outcast and16heretic, the fictionalized college teacher was accused of heresyand even if he excelled as a dedicated lecturer and adviser, he wasdeserted by his colleagues and ostracized in campus life.This developing image of the college teacher in these novelspresented societal conflict of values between teachers and thestatus quo "by organized power structures of capitalism, religionand the venal press (which) treated him as subversive" (p.467).The politicization of the teacher as portrayed in these novelsof the 1950s described the college as a "power structure". Thebusiness of the day was to produce for other power structures inother spheres of mutual interest - the military and privatefoundations. As a figure against this background, the image of thecollege teacher shifted once again into an "opportunist" and"political gamesman" where teaching was left to young instructorsand graduate students.As the novels reach the 1960s, colleges and teachers absorbedthe values of mainstream American corporate-capitalist society. Theimage of the college teacher then shifted again into a more complexrelationship with the school, the public and the political arena.John E. Oster (1972) examined Canadian literature over a spanof five decades to learn how authors portrayed teachers as part ofthe social and political fabric of prairie life. The fictionalimages revealed certain patterns of student-teacher and teacher-community relationships which Oster considered more meaningful toreaders since the relationships were projected within a life-like17context of the realistic novel.Oster limited the scope of his study to the distinctive way oflife prevailing in the Western Canadian prairie provinces ofManitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. This particular Canadian regiongave the different novelists a realistic environment to describethe human struggle against the isolation and lonelinesssuffered by the characters in the harsh, sometimes brutal climate.The study traced the cultural determinants that created apicture of rural education and community life that no longerexists, from the pioneer days of the 1920s to the urban communitiesof the 1960s. During that period of time, Oster selected 71 novelsthat depicted a diversity of characterizations about the personalexpectations of teachers, their pedagogical attributes, and theirromantic idealism and creativity.Over two-thirds of the fictional teachers are women. Forthese women, the novelists focussed on the teacher's romantic life.They placed them into six categories: romantic heroines, romanticsirens, aging rebels, old maids, aspiring academics and marriedwomen. Most typical of the fictional teachers was the romanticheroine who was both a beautiful woman and an exemplary teacher.She usually left the teaching profession after winning the mosteligible bachelor in the community.Oster found that the typical male teacher was usually aneffective teacher even if some people thought he was working in a"women's" profession. In the sympathetic treatment by novelists of18male teachers, most succeeded professionally rather than romantically,although when there is a romantic interest it develops with astudent, a colleague or a married woman. The male teacher's personallife is basically lonely; he is a man alienated from the land andthe life of the community through his academic career.Some of the fictional teachers criticize the content-centeredconcept of education. Their personal contact with students inclassrooms led them to believe that it is educationally better tomake men and women out of the students rather than fill their headswith raw information. They followed the progressive trend of thetimes which saw eduction better served through real-life experiencesthan by formal schooling. Some prairie families questioned the valueof formal education as just a conformity-ridden trap for the young.Oster discovered that the novelists emphasized those traitswhich characterized good teachers and teaching."The good teacher is invariably depicted as a warm, responsiveperson who inspires confidence and enthusiasm in others; heseeks to understand the cultural milieu in which he has tooperate; and he respects the customs and beliefs of thecommunity with different social and cultural backgrounds; heconsiders himself a culture-bearer -- not in order to imposehis values on the community, but rather to enrich the livesof people" (p.164).Yet, in the novelists' description of classroom activities,teaching was anything but an objective and rational activity.19Oster cited many novels where the teacher acted as a mentor tostimulate and nurture the intellectual and artistic aspirations ofyoung people. Although the influence of teachers upon their youngproteges may have been positive or negative, the attitude ofthe people in the community countered the effectiveness of theteacher. In these novels, some prairie people actually consideredpublic education a hindrance which took their children away fromneeded farm work.However, in his chapter on the teacher in the community, Osterconcluded that the European settlers valued the blessing of formaleducation. The novelists of the 1960s have portrayed the immigrantprairie farmers and their families with sympathy. They made greatsacrifices so that their children might, through education, havethe power to free themselves from a life of harsh physical toil.Malcolm S. Enger (1974) uses three criteria to study the imageof a teacher as portrayed in American fiction published between1965 and 1971. His work is based upon E. M. Forster's (1927)assumptions that a fictional narrative can reveal an author'sattitude towards the characters, the characters' perceptions ofthemselves and their feelings toward one another. Enger chosenovels where teachers were given an in-depth character portrait,where they were engaged in teaching, and where the teacher'srelation to others was revealed.Enger chose the years 1965 - 1971 -- years of social unrestand change -- because he believed them to represent a critical20period in which the image of the teacher changed as many groupschangelled the content of the curriculum as well as the role of theteacher. Teachers, he claimed, struck postures wholly inconsistentwith their previous "churchmouse" image. He believed that animage of a contemporary teacher was necessary in order to providea sharper perception of the role and role expectations. Forexample, Enger suggests that one role the teacher experiences isthat of a mediator and transmitter of the culture outside theclassroom. Without an awareness of the role he plays in the schoolenvironment, the effectiveness as a teacher can be undermined.In his own review of literature, Enger found precedents fordrawing upon literature and the narrative as a source of images ofteachers. Arthur Foff (1971) concurred that understanding theteaching role, inferred by the image or idea of the teacher, wascrucial for occupational success. This is consistent with thepurpose of Enger's study, which was to foster critical self-examination among the teaching profession through the stimulationprovided by contemporary novels and stories.In pre-1965 images of teachers, Enger found a recurringparadox: a respect for education but very little for the teacher.Enger cited both Don Charles and Leo Gurko to support his argumentthat stereotypes and generalizations persisted. Charles (1950)also found that teachers were treated as "living cliches" and notas significant individuals. Gurko (1953) reconstructed images ofmale and female teachers from literature and mythology and found21them to be both unattractive and demeaning.Enger's study indicated his concern on the continuance ofthese stereotypical images of teachers in these novels. He claimedthat these images endangered the very heart of formal education andcould be seen as a threat not only to the teacher, but to societyitself. In contrast to earlier work, the new image of the teacherthat arose in the late 1960s, as reflected in the novels publishedbetween 1965 and 1971, provided a conception of the teacher ashonest and moral, but also as decidedly disobedient. This implieda contemporary ethic in which a person's moral values transcendedone's obedience to the system.The teacher was motivated to act out of a commitment, not tothe system, but to an ideal, a way of life, a better world. Thishumanistic "better world" was one in which people have a higherpriority than knowledge or law (p.148). The problems faced byteachers were those laws, traditions and customs, which in the enddefeated the teacher-character in the realization of this "betterworld". Teacher-characters were more tragic and less happy aboutthe circumstances of the lives. But in spite of their frequentlosses to adversity, they appeared more heroic, and strongerbecause of their struggles. Teachers functioned as change agentswho favoured hard work although they usually experienced illegalpractices and physical violence from their own peer group. Theywere more romantically and sexually oriented than some othercharacters and sought their sexual identities in intimate affairs.22In the context of this study, it is interesting to note thatEnger recommended that further studies of the images of teachers,as they are depicted in fiction and portrayed in narrative films,should be made. He believed that such studies would encourage andrenew the spirit and adventure of teaching.Gregor F. Zellhofer (1980) chose to study the American novelas a reflector and a creator of myths and attitudes about ourselvesand others. Focusing on the nature of the teaching profession asdepicted by major and minor characters in more than thirty novels,Zellhofer argued that the stereotypical images of teachers can bea valuable source to discover the social reality of both the schooland the community. However, he advised caution. Zellhofer selectedthirty-five novels from the twenties to the sixties containingfictional teachers as central characters or "stereotypes". By"stereotype" he means the standardized mental picture held incommon by members of the community which represents anoversimplified opinion, attitude or uncritical judgment of aperson. Like an "image", it is a popular conception of a personprojected through the novel to depict these stereotypicalcharacteristics.Zellhofer used Lever's (1961) definition of a novel as "theform of written prose narrative of a considerable length involvingthe reader in an imagined world which is new because it has beencreated by the author" (p. 16). "Image" is defined as both aphysical representation and a mental impression. The teacher-image23was evaluated in terms of its positive or negative impact, that is,if the character reflected a credible portrayal of human nature andexperience but created an unfavourable image of the teachingprofession. "Stereotype" also is defined as "an incomplete butcoherent image that lacks individuality" (p. 7).Zellhofer claimed that numerous studies have been concernedwith the professional status of teachers. George C. Counts (1925)ranks them as tenth out of twenty-five occupations, while laterGroff (1962) classified them as "middle-class professionals". InAmerican novels, teacher stereotypes represented a widely sharedimage in the minds of the community. According to Willard Waller(1932) "much of social interaction rests upon stereotypes".Zellhofer concluded that: "any image can be carried in theminds of people as if it were real." Regardless of whether ateacher-image is oversimplified and incomplete or fully drawn, itssignificance lies in the composite image conveyed to the reader(and viewer as well) in terms of being positive or negative"(p.34). His study presented the fictional image of the high schoolteacher within an historical reality. Zellhofer organized thenovels chronologically from the twenties to the seventies. He useda subjective impressionistic interpretation of that image in termsof its positive or negative impact.About these five decades, Zellhofer came to these conclusions:The novel Treadmill (Simpson, 1929) described the professionalproblems of the high school teacher as one of low salaries,24community pressures for conformity and moral standards, andadministrative repression of the teacher in the classroom. The Presence of Everett Marsh (Wood, 1937) was the only novel to depicta positive image of the teacher. Yet, in general novels of the1930s saw the demands of the community as a significant factor inwarping the personal lives of high school teachers. But, Zellhoferfound that "thwarted desires and sexual frustration hauntedteachers who could not conform to the role that the communityassigned them" (p.84). This problem, plus the low salaries paid toteachers at that time, was confirmed by non-fictional sources.In the decade of the 1940s, the most positive depiction ofteachers is discovered in The Hickory Stick (Scott, 1948) althoughteaching in the high schools was still financially unrewarding.While few fictional high school faculties had outstanding teachers,the educational problems of teaching were voiced but did not "ringtrue". The 1950s produced four novels which portrayed the highschool teacher as a major character with a positive image. The Blackboard Jungle (Hunter, 1954), Teacher Lady (Morgan, 1952),Strike Heaven on the Face (Calitri, 1958) and Betrayal (Tigue,1959), collectively depicted the high school teacher as unpreparedto cope with social changes taking place. Students often displayeddefiant disregard for both education and the school causingteachers to contend with the fear, incompetence and cynicism oftheir colleagues. By the 1960s UP the Down Staircase (Kaufman,1964) ,ThePrincipal  (Siegel ,1963) ,Mr.Gallion's School  (Stuart,1967),25and The Tight White Collar (Metalious, 1960), reflected a commonbut positive stereotype. In all of the novels, teachers alluded tothe political, social, economic and administrative conditions thatshaped their attitudes. The common grievances running through thesenovels indicated that pressures on teachers to conform to communitynorms, financial insecurity and administrative repression oftenwarped their lives. Frustrated by school officials who wereintimidating, cowardly, and incompetent, Zellhofer was surprisedthat high school teachers taught successsfully under thesedemoralizing conditions.Although these problems caused novelists to face up to thevalue conflicts over education, Zellhofer's thesis did not attemptto cover the curriculum nor the methods used to teach varioussubjects. In most novels, the schoolroom became a setting forsocial and political conflict. Drama was served more thaneducational objectives. In addition, Zellhofer became ambiguous byusing terms like "positive" or "negative" impact. How does thatrelate to teacher/student interaction, curriculum growth or changeor the student's personal relationship to public schooling?Zellhofer may have fulfilled his goal describing the "troublewith schools" in the American sense, but his selection of novelsdid not really enter into the debate over the "reproduction" of acultural tradition or the "reconstruction" and transformation ofthe educational system.Mary Adams Crume (1988) examined the images of teachers in26novels and films written or filmed during the 1980s employing thestructured techniques of content analysis. In using this social-scientific research technique, Crume investigated the content offilms and novels as a deeper reflection of underlying messages andmeanings. This technique permitted her to avoid making any priorassumptions as to the artistic merit, quality of expression, themedium's entertainment value, or the status of the work in theculture. Crume's study accepted the notion that media, especiallyliterature and film, have the capabilities to portray and transmitcultural beliefs, values and attitudes. However, she argued thecase that the fictional treatment of teachers in our society, thoserepresentations and images of teachers in literature and film, haveadversely influenced adolescents and adults and their perceptionsof the teaching profession but to what extend is left unanswered.Crume examined 29 novels and 28 films, many based upon filmadaptations of those novels. Both the novels and related films werepublished or released from 1980 to April 1987. Each narrativeportrayed high school teachers playing significant roles in thelives of the teenage students. Her goal was to determine whetherthe roles undertaken by the high school teachers in the narrativeswere primarily positive or negative, realistic or stereotypical,hostile or sympathetic. Her study attempted to compare the selectednovels and films with similar fictional narratives from pastdecades.A number of reasons cited by Crume for undertaking her study.27Foremost is the cultural expectations and beliefs concerning therole of the teacher and formal education in society. She arguedthat the media, mostly novels and fictional films, are responsiblefor depicting schools and the teachers in unflattering and negativeways, influencing the teachers' sense of self- esteem and worth inthe society. Moreover, novels and films are powerful creators andmanipulators of teacher-images which produce unfavourablerepresentations that may directly contribute "to public apathyconcerning the problems teachers and schools face and to an anti-intellectual climate detrimental to education" (p.2).Crume advanced the notion that teacher self-development canproceed when teachers know how they are perceived by others. Herincreasing concern about the image of teachers in narrativefictions is based on the relative status it is given in society.When teachers can defend and correct to some extent this teacher-image, Crume claimed that this information would bolster theprofession and help attract talented and qualified persons.To support her argument, Crume cited Ian C. Jarvie (1970) whoasserted that certain aspects of film make this visual medium moreforceful than literature in exerting influence over its viewers.This is particularly true when existing belief systems andknowledge are not well formed and societal values are changing.Film can offer moral, social and political arguments, and withinthis context, convey truths as well as propaganda in accord withthe narrative. Yet, her study did not indicate or cite occasions28when this had occurred. This "dark side" that resides in filmrepresentations of teachers usually is complemented by a morepositive vision in the majority of works examined. However, shewas aware that the danger of film and literature arose when theimages and representations were overwhelmingly stereotypical andnegative.There were five major research questions employed by Crume inher study. The first question concerned the prominence of ateacher's fictional role in films for adolescents - was it a majorrole or minor one? The second question explored the images of theteacher. Her content categories included the teacher as a scholar,an idealist, a love object, as a victim, as an adversary orvillain, as a clown or buffoon, or as an immoralist. Her thirdquestion dealt with the demographics, physical attributes andpersonal life. The fourth dealt with student attitudes towardsteachers, schools, and education in general. The last question,divided into a number of categories, related to the workingenvironment of the teacher, the relationships with students,colleagues and administrators and sources of teacher satisfactionand dissatisfaction.Crume concluded her study by finding that novelists and filmmakers differed in the images of teachers they constructed. Thenovelist was more inclined to present teachers with positiveimages, usually as a friend/counsellor, while the filmmaker wasmore likely to depict teachers with negative, usually stereotypical29images, notably as the adversary/villain or the odd duck/buffoon.Crume found that most stories minimized the academic function ofteachers and highlighted the school as a social setting or as abattleground.ConclusionsFrom this review of literature a number of significantconcepts concerning the image of a teacher in literature and filmbecome complementary and relevant to the question posed in thisstudy:"What is the image of a teacher as it is depicted innarrative film"?Ezor (1969) stated that the portrayal of major teacher-characters in the novels of his study illustrated a form ofteacher-image derived from the romantic idealism of what a teacherought to be. From this role-model, he believed teachers becameexceptional lecturers and mentors in stimulating student awarenessabout themselves.Oster (1972) found in his survey of Canadian novels a pictureof rural education and community life where the image of theteacher was characterized by their romantic idealism andcreativity. In this regard, Oster cited many novels where theteacher acted effectively as a mentor to nurture the intellectualand artistic aspirations of young people. Teachers were portrayedas seeing education better served through real-life experiencesrather than from formal schooling - a romantic-progressive policyused in the film narrative of Why Shoot the Teacher?.30Enger (1974) limited his study to novels that portrayed achanging image of a teacher during the years of social unrestbetween 1965 and 1971 in the United States. Using this criticalperiod, Enger drew upon the literature to argue that teachersrequire an awareness of their roles as mediators and transmittersof culture to defend themselves against various interest groups whochallenged the content of the curriculum and the teacher's positioninside the classroom. Not only was a self-image of a teacherrequired but, as a new image of a teacher emerged, he claimed thatthe novels reflected teachers whose moral values challengedadherence and obedience to the bureaucracy of the school system.A romantic-humanistic philosophy is cited with a futureorientation towards creating a "better world" where the individualtakes priority over outmoded traditions and customs of the past. As"change agents", teachers were portrayed as romantically orientedtowards life-sustaining experiences in their struggle against life-denying ones that appear in the traditional curriculum. Enger alsorecommended futher studies on the image of a teacher as depicted inmotion pictures to encourage and renew the romantic spirit andadventure in teaching.Zellhofer (1980) was concerned with the persistentstereotyping of teachers in American novels that create myths aboutthemselves and others. While he argued that these novels are avaluable source of information about the social reality of schoolsand the community, nevertheless there is a danger that these31reflections and images of teachers, regardless of their accuracy,can be carried in the minds of people "as if they were real".Stereotyping helps standardize and compartmentalize people. Imagesthat fictionalize teachers in formula-driven dramas lead touncritical thinking and judgment of the teachers involved.Crume (1988) provided the latest study on the image ofteachers in novels and narrative film. Her examination covered thetransmission of cultural beliefs and attitudes which she argueddirectly influenced public perception of teachers and the teachingprofession. She discovered that these novels and films wereresponsible for depicting schools and teachers in unflattering andnegative ways. The power of film to create and manipulatestereotypical teacher-images led her to believe that theycontributed to an anti-intellectual climate detrimental toeducation. In this regard, she also asked teachers to become awareof how they were being perceived by others so they can defend andcorrect their image.32CHAPTER THREEHistorical Background on Curriculum Development and Change^ I also wanted to indicate what I believe art'sunique place to be: that of guiding the individual toa personal vision of the world, and of his place in it.Contrary to theories held by some enemies of art,such as Plato and his followers, art is not an imitationof reality, neither of external reality nor the innerreality of the unconscious. It is always a vision,an attempt to express visibly what a particular age,a particular society, a particular person has viewed asthe true nature and essence of reality, both the essenceof man and his relations to significant aspects of the world.Bruno Bettelheim - Art: A Personal Vision - 1964The beliefs of romantic-minded teachers are contained in thevisionary aspects of life as stated by Bettleheim in the aboveparagraph. Film images of teachers also project a visionary aspectof a particular age and a particular viewpoint. The six filmsreviewed in this study portray different teachers in three distincthistorical periods during the 20th century. The purpose of thischapter is to place in context the images of teachers depicted inthese film in relationship to non-fictional historical accounts andrecords. This brief history indicates some of the educationalissues and theories, cultural issues, and causes of conflict whicharose within the traditional curriculum of those times.When we study and write about "historical" films, usuallythere exist some historical facts that set the action of the dramain a period that is recognizable to the audience as "the past".Thus, historical films are all fictionalized versions based uponknown records and documents of the past. It is the work of thescreenwriter and the director to supply the historical "details"33necessary for the audience to become informed about the visualiconographies and conventions that they will use. "Historical filmsare all fictional", states Sorokin. Even when they are based uponevents of the past, film-makers usually take the liberty to"reconstruct the past in a purely imaginative way" through thecombination of historical traditions and particular fictionalizedevents in the film narrative (Sorokin, 1980, p.21).Films, through their ability to present a life-like illusionof the space/time continuum, become a "redemption of physicalreality" (Kracauer, 1960) but then are given interpretation andmeaning through point-of-view shots and editing to serve dramaticends. This narrative bias is very similar to the process ofinterpretation of raw materials used by social and politicalhistorians. However, there is a fundamental difference betweencinema and historical inquiry since the goals are quite different.Films are an art form. The fictional stories and the depiction ofpeople involved with past events are communicated through visualimages and sound effects using specific camera techniques andediting to control the narrative, emotional and ideational contentof the film. The interpretation of historical events in thesenarratives are thus simply 'distorted' and 'manipulated' by thedirector and screenwriter for a desired set of objectives within aparticular cultural construct (Sorlin, 1980, p.17).Each of the six narrative films in this study reveal andreflect the work of each director as he perceived the social and34political issues within a particular "historical culture" that was"reconstructed" on film. These are the basic issues faced by theteacher-protagonist in search of a humanistic curriculum thatmotivates children to learn and provides opportunities for growthand discovery. In these films certain transformational ideasconcerning curriculum and teaching methodology appear in contrastto the more transmissional ones they challenge. These ideas appearto evolve from deep-seated beliefs by the respective teachers thatconnect them to the humanist-progressive educational theories whichhave already decided the question on what should be taught inschools and who determines what knowledge is of most worth and why.This study of six narrative films selected to represent animage of a teacher as a romantic rebel have been paired accordingto school level and placed within three different historical eras.These eras are identified by the historical period, the country,the curriculum content and the teacher/student interaction asfollows: First, the era of the Great Depression before the SecondWorld War, the late 1930s, in Canada and New Zealand. The focus ison primary schools. Second, the post-Atomic era of the Cold War inthe late 1950s in Vermont, New England and London, England isexamined. The focus is on private pre-collegiate secondary schools.Third, the post-Watergate era of the late 1970s and 1980s in LosAngeles and New England comes under review. The focus is on inner-city metropolitan high schools.My research into each of these "historical" films has revealed35two major contrasting curriculums and teaching styles. They couldbe considered dramatically necessary in order to create the majorconflicts in each narrative. However they are basic to thescreenplay for the character development of the teacher as a"romantic rebel". One curriculum is regulated by the traditionalconservative point-of-view towards education and presents thediscipline-centred approach to curriculum. The other is concernedwith the liberal-progressive point-of-view of education andpresents the child-centred approach towards the curriculum. Bothapproaches are concerned with the education of students and theirfuture roles as adult citizens in a democratic society.Group One - Research into primary schools of the 1930s The first pairing of films involves young teachers assigned toprimary schools in one-room schoolhouses during the GreatDepression days in the late 1930s. The action takes place in twoseparate English-speaking countries, New Zealand for Sylvia andCanada for Whv Shoot the Teacher? Both were British colonies duringthe 19th century and the educational system had been stronglyinfluenced by the English curriculum. In the 20th century, strongcultural bonds continued between England and these two independentnations. Most textbooks that supported the curriculum wereinherited from Britain during the latter part of the 19th centuryfor both patriotic and moral purposes. In Canada, Ryerson importedIrish Readers that also were used in Australia and New Zealand that36"had a pan-imperial appeal without being stridently nationalistic"(Tomkins, 1986, p.67)The New Zealand film is titled Sylvia (1985). It was directedby Colin Firth. The filmscript is based upon two autobiographicalbooks Teacher and I Passed This Way, written by Sylvia Ashton-Warner, the noted educational author. The film depicts thestruggles of a young primary schoolteacher who returns to teachingafter her recovery from a mental break-down. Her assignment is toteach the basics of reading and writing to Maori children in aremote colonial school in New Zealand. Driven by her own "innervision" and creative spirit, she develops progressive teachingmethods to encourage these children learn to read.Art In Schools: The New Zealand Experience, published by theNew Zealand Department of Education in 1978, devotes its firstchapter to the development of curriculum in primary schoolsthroughout the nation. The introduction states that "to write aboutways of teaching arts simply formalises an activity that should beinformal, individual, and creatively independent". "Art teachersdistrust 'how-to-do-it' books, and the recipe approach." TheDepartment of Education thus "maintained a policy of encouragingart teachers to design their own programmes to meet local needs"(P.10). The basic aim of education is to encourage teachers "toexplore ways of helping people discover themselves and their worldthrough the agency of art" (p. 11). This is exactly the theme ofthe film Sylvia.37In July 1937, The New Education Fellowship, an educationalorganization set up to propagate new American progressive ideas foreducators (Cremin, 1988), held its international conference inAustralia. It also sent a delegation of educators to New Zealandincluding Arthur Lismer, a Canadian painter, and Dr. Paul Dengler,a disciple of Franz Cizek, who pioneered child art in Vienna. Theprimary schools were closed and six thousand teachers enrolled tohear these two men give a new direction to primary school educationin New Zealand.According to the report given in Art In Schools, Lismeradvanced a revolutionary theory that art should have a centralplace in the curriculum for all children: that it should not beviewed or considered as "stuffy Victorian sentimentality", butshould be recognized as vital to education because it provided thechild with a picture of himself and his environment which led tothe discovery of one's own identity. (Art in Schools, p.14).It is likely that Sylvia Ashton-Warner was one of thoseteachers who became involved with this progressive notion of Art inSchools. Following the abolition of the proficiency exam in 1936,the then Minister of Education, Peter Fraser, opened the door toprogrammes that were as "rich and varied as the needs and abilitiesof the children that enter them" (Art in Schools, p.15).Before 1937, the main object of art education was quitedifferent from that espoused by Lismer and Dengler. Chiefly itfollowed a graded course of instruction that began in the primary38grades and continued through the grammar school grades. It wasbased upon the work of David Blair, David Con Hutton and otherBritish professional drawing masters who emigrated to New Zealandin the 1870s and 1880s. They implemented the powerful SouthKensington approach to "industrial drawing".A similar syllabus to that used in Britain was introduced in1885 in New Zealand which had nothing to do with childhoodexpression but with the development of hand and eye coordinationlinked to a technical understanding of geometrical forms (Art InSchools, p.15).The New Zealand Council for Educational Research, set up in1933, published the proceedings of a conference held in September1961 on the need for research in the education of Maori Children.As reported by Gabrielle M. Maxwell, the aim of the conference was"to draw up a programme to guide teachers to improve the schoolingof Maori children" (p.1). The research centred on classroompractices, language and thought, and the development of attitudesand values in dealing with the Maori culture within the Englishculture. Although this transcript was written in 1962, it coversthe same educational territory with the same educational problemsthat beset Sylvia (Mrs. Henderson) in the remote Maori school inthe late 1930s. Yet nowhere are her accounts of teaching methodsmentioned as a way of recognizing the "scholastic backwardness" and"pattern of retardation" that appeared to exist during her returnto teaching in a remote colonial school in the late 1930s.39As Ashton-Warner stated in her book Teacher, "the Maorilanguage is important to many Maori because as a language it is ameans of defining the identity of its people" (p. 30). Therecognition of their language and cultural heritage, its contactwith English since the time of Cook's discovery of the Polynesianislands in the 18th century, re-enforces the notion that Maorichildren value belonging to a group which maintains a sense ofpersonal identity. Further comparisons with this study and the workof Ashton-Warner will be made with the review of Sylvia.Sylvia's discovery of culturally-related Maori materialshelped her overcome the frustrations she experienced in teachingreading from the English reader, Janet and John, to Maori childrenwho could not comprehend these words. The English words were likestrangers from another world. The children showed no cultural orinstinctive connection to them. When she linked her drawings withEnglish words which contained a power content, Sylvia helped thechildren make emotional connections and thus find some personalsignificance in the words. Then the students eagerly wanted topossess those words/images that acted as ideas to directly expressa way of conceiving the world. The selected "first" words alsowere personally attached to each individual student and assistedpersonal achievement and self-worth (Ashton-Warner, 1963).During the same period as Sylvia in New Zealand, Canadianteachers faced similar problems in bringing public education toremote rural areas. During the 1930s teachers were recruited from40eastern Normal Schools to work in the western provinces of Albertaand Saskatchewan. They faced hardships due to poor economic growthand unsuitable conditions for farming. Some one-room ruralschoolhouses were built to accommodate farm children of widelydifferent ages from "an undifferentiated academic curriculum ofinstruction" (Tomkins, 1986, p. 166).A Canadian film, Why Shoot the Teacher? (1982), directed bySilvio Narizzano, reconstructs this historical period in greatdetail. The filmscript is based upon an autobiographical novel byMax Braithwaite. The narrative depicts the experiences of a newschool teacher, fresh out of a Normal School in Ontario, whoaccepted a position in a small farming community in ruralSaskatchewan during the 1930s. Like Sylvia, this teacher had toovercome loneliness, poverty conditions and bureaucratic schoolofficials in order to understand the cultural beliefs and values ofhis students and the kinds of learning materials they required thatwould serve to enrich their lives.In the Annual Report of the Department of Education of theProvince of Saskatchewan for 1937 there were 204,871 pupils enroledin schools under the School Act. Of that number, 125,287 were inrural school districts. A.B. Ross, Director of Curricula, writes inhis 1936 report that the aims of education must give "greateremphasis of the social development of children" (p.28) and to thateffect "the centre of interest must be the child not the subject".(p. 28). In curriculum revision, Ross noted, in a curriculum guide41first issued in 1931, that two new courses for grades VII and VIIIwere introduced, namely agriculture and nature science and shopmechanics. The objective was to develop the "right attitudes" andto solve problems using the scientific method concerning the skilland knowledge to control the environment. Shop mechanics was addedto the curriculum to give pupils an introduction into the nature of"industrial life". But in the Annual Report of 1936, Ross wrotethat "The important thing is the training of the child's initiativeand imagination" (p. 27), adopting the creed of the "progressive"educators. The irony of this situation was that most schools lackedthe basic tools and equipment to give instruction in those areas.In the Annual Report of 1937, G. B. Stillwell, supervisor ofteacher training, wrote that for the past several years the job ofadministering and organizing inspections was severely complicated"by drought conditions and by the shifting of population" (p. 28).He followed these comments with efforts by inspectors to bolsterthe spirit and determination of teachers that "carry on inconditions far from ideal". Then he listed the difficulties facingthe rural teacher: "heavy enrolments and overcrowding, scarcity oftexts and library books, scarcity of equipment, inexperience,unsatisfactory arrangements for board and room, and isolation fromother educational workers" (p.28). Nevertheless he concluded thatdespite the extent of the handicaps - more likely severe hardshipsendured considering the weather condition - "the schools were doingremarkably well" (Saskatchewan Annual Report, 1937)42Stillwell also stressed the fact that inspectors "promotedefficiency in English, the social sciences, music and art" (p.28).Adding to this, he indicates that 'activity methods of teaching'were taking place in some of the schools. This curriculum changeis depicted in the film Whv Shoot the Teacher? but the character ofthe inspector is hostile to classroom projects and takes on atraditional-authoritative position calling rote memory into play.Underneath all the optimism of this report was the fact thatduring 1937 crop failures continued and the prospects for the 1938crop were damaged greatly by rust and grasshoppers. This resultedin large number of school districts being unable to collect taxes.But nearly 500 schools were kept in operation due to sacrifices oftrustees and teachers. (Saskatchewan Annual Report, 1937)Tomkins (1986) mentions that the beginnings of curriculumrevision began in Alberta during the 1930s, but it was cautious,sporadic and experimental. Tomkins attributes the New Educationthrust of the progressives to a growing resentment by teachers andthe public over the domination of curriculum through textbookspublished in eastern Canada, meaning Toronto, Ontario. Thisattitude followed the efforts of Saskatchewan's Foght Report of1918 to incorporate American expertise in progressive education asdeveloped by W.H.Kilpatrick, a Teachers College colleague of JohnDewey at Columbia University. His innovative "project method"united the behavioral positive reinforcement ideas of Thorndikewith activity projects related to children's interests.43Kilpatrick's theory of education was based upon the attitudeof learners towards their work which decided if a project became agiven task accepted by the child or if a project was an exerciseset forth and imposed by the teacher. Kilpatrick held the beliefthat the project method was directed by "purposeful activity" onthe part of the student (Tomkins, 1986, p.190).Cremin (1988) mentions the appearance of a yearbook called The Educational Frontier (1933) under the editorship of Kilpatrick withcontributing essays by Dewey, Childs and Raup of Teachers College.These authors "pointed out the disjunction between the corporatismof the material world wrought by science and technology and theindividualism of the moral world inherited from an older agrariansociety." It is possible that such a journal reached many normalschools in Canada, especially in Toronto, and that its programcalling for teachers "to take a lead in planning a social andeconomic reconstruction of society" influenced many young teacherscaught with a sense of passion during a time of crisis broughtabout by the Great Depression (Cremin, 1988, pp.189-190).Opposition to the "Frontier Thinkers" in the 1930s was raisedby the critical voice of the president of the University ofChicago, Robert M. Hutchins. He argued in his 1936 book, The Higher Learning in America, against the growing "sentimentalhumanitarianism" of American education. Instead, he proposed a casefor "a general schooling of all people rooted in the classicdisciplines of grammar, rhetoric, logic and mathematics and the44careful study of the great books of the Western world." He took astrong stance against educational programs that adopted transitoryagendas to satisfy local needs with one that embraced "traditionalstudies and the perennial truths" (Cremin, 1988,p.193).Group Two - Research into private high school of the 1950s The second pairing of films selected for study involvesteachers and students contesting the aims of education and thecurriculum in two similarly structured non-Catholic private highschools. One is located outside of London, England. The film istitled IF.... The second film is located in Vermont, New Englandand it is titled Dead Poets Society.Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, (1989), starring RobinWilliams, is a coming-of-age film which takes place in an all-maleprivate school called Welton Academy in 1959. The film concernsseven teenagers who come under the "influence" of the new Englishteacher (Williams). He encourages his students to "seize the day"and to live life to the fullest. However well-intentioned, the newEnglish teacher's radical program for self-discovery and liberationruns afoul of the traditional curriculum and teaching practices.The film is set in the Arcadian woods of New England. Theviewer can understand how private schools in those days easilyerected a wall of collective security and isolation to close outthe real world, and live according to the traditions of the past.In 1959, the Eisenhower administration was coming to a close, and45America and Western Europe "enjoyed prosperity". According toeconomist J.K. Galbraith, the 1950s were the decade of affluence.His book, The Affluent Society, argued that the advanced industrialcountries had mastered the production of goods. As the problem ofwealth and prosperity emerged at the end of this period,inequalities in the schools of America had become a veritablenightmare as the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin LutherKing Jr. for de-segregation brought blacks and whites into battle.If the problem facing America was a political one then howcould this new found wealth be shared? How could it be distributedequitably within American society? (Johnson,1983,p.613). With theelection of Kennedy in 1960, both the Cuban crisis and the SpaceRace became the primary commitments of American wealth and power.Yet the political problems of racial integration and equality thatbeset America challenged the basic notion of the function of publicschools in the country. According to Cremin (1988), public schools"prided themselves on being "common" schools, schools that enrolledchildren of all races, classes, religions, and ethnic backgroundsand that in the process continually honored and renewed theAmerican commitment to democracy" (Cremin,1988,p.551).The private non-sectarian boarding school of Welton, asdepicted in Dead Poets Society, was based upon an elitist traditionsupported by an affluent clientele. Both shared a common social andpolitical background. Yet Cremin believed that the curriculum andthe textbooks used were more like "the public high school stressing46science and mathematics in the Northeast". Whatever subtle classdistinctions existed, the private school even more so than thepublic school generally ignored the broader social context ofracial equality. They maintained a traditional academic curriculumrounded out with outdoor sporting activities such as soccer,rowing, and football. Further research into the educationalperformances of the non-sectarian private school has beenundertaken by James Coleman and his colleagues in High School Achievement: Public, Catholic and Private Schools.^Coleman'scomparison of private to public schools^has revealed some notunexpected findings. As stated by Denis P. Doyle, in his essay onthe "Future of Private Schooling in America", Coleman and hiscolleagues found out "some schools are better than others, thatfrequently the better schools are private schools, and that ifmoney is no object, many more children would attend private schoolsthan do so now" (Bunzel, 1985, p.157).While such commonsense may prevail, IF... directed by LindsayAnderson, counters beliefs of this kind. This film is a blackcomedy about a repressive upper-class boys school in England. Asa political allegory, the film reflects the revolt against a codeof behavior in a school where tradition and authority rule. Weunderstand the school "as a microcosm - where the educationalsystem is such an exact image of the social system."In 1957, Anderson wrote:"Obviously the greatest single factor in keeping England47a classbound society is the fact that education isconducted along lines dictated by considerations ofclass. If you want to move towards a classless society,reorganize education...the public schools remain, as partof a system of rewards. If you are successful, i.e. makemoney, one of the ways in which your success is rewardedis the power to send your children to expensive schools,where they will receive...the unalterable marks ofmember-ship of the governing class. Who am I to interferewith anything so deep-rooted?" (Maschler, 1957, p.149).Most of the school boys in IF... are obsessed with self-images, for they are denied any recognition of their ownimagination. They realize that they are in a 'cloning' operation,a rather efficient method of replicating little standard bearersfor God and Country. The revolt of Mick and his friends is one thatbecomes an overt quest for individuality in the midst of samenessand conformity (Graham,1981,p.101).The Education Act of 1944 - the famous 'Butler Act' - "becamethe foundation stone of the tripartite system of grammar, technicaland secondary modern schools in England. It also denotes thebeginning of the modern era of curriculum conflict in Britain...because from this date forward curriculum conflict becomes morevisible, public and national" (Goodson, 1983, p.19). The Actfollows the Norwood Report of 1943 which designates three distinctviews of curriculum according to certain notions of education that48would be appropriate for different groups of pupils.The first view is the traditional subject-based curriculum forpupils associated with the Grammar School, where education is thetransmission of a cultural heritage, and "for pupils who care toknow how things came to be as well as how they are"(Goodson,1983,p.18). These pupils will enter "the learnedprofessions" or take up higher administrative posts. This is theacademic tradition. The second view is the initiation of pupilsinto worthwhile ways of thinking and doing, i.e., into the fieldsof applied science or applied art where the curriculum would becarried out by technical or vocational schools. This is theutilitarian tradition. The third view is allied to the progressivemovement, being more interested in facilitating the growth of theindividual. This would emphasize studies where a "direct appeal tothe interests of the pupil would be awakened by practical touchwith affairs" (Goodson, 1983,p.19). These three views of curricula,the occupational destinies and social classes of the pupils and thedifferent schools to carry out these directives were confirmed inthe Education Act of 1944 (Goodson, 1983, p.19).The tensions that arose in the English education system amongthese three views were addressed by curriculum reformers in 1972,by Marten Shipman and others, because of the fears that anycurriculum reform would be a means to sustain the old divisions ofa class system and a "Curriculum for Inequality". His essay clearlyoutlines the "unintended consequences of curriculum development".49One tradition emphasizes a pool of factual knowledge that is tiedto the academic mode of instruction with the teacher as the primeagent of instruction and authority. The other tradition emergesfrom American sources that rejects formal teaching methods and isexperimental, aligning the school work to the environment of thechildren. In this tradition, learning is facilitated by teacher'sinsight and care (Shipman, 1971, pp.101-2).It is interesting to note that "curriculum retrenchment" inthe United States during the late 1950s was spurred on by federalfunding for improvement in instruction for the sciences andlanguages under the National Defense Education Act, mainly for "thetraining of skilled technicians in fields deemed necessary fornational defense". This response to the Cold War and the need tokeep up with the Soviet space and arms program gave priority toscience and mathematics and most likely created the conference atWoods Hole where Bruner and his colleagues designed the discipline-based curriculum described in The Process of Education in 1960(Tanner and Tanner, 1980, p. 520).Group Three - Research in inner-city high schools in the late 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles and New England Teachers,(1984) is a comedy/melodrama directed by ArthurHiller and starring Nick Nolte and JoBeth Williams. In a policedinner-city high school, a lawsuit, brought on behalf of the parentsof a former student, becomes the catalyst to bring the principal,50the unions and the teachers into political turmoil. Though asatirical view of themselves, most teachers and students enactstereotypical roles trapped by bureaucratic school administrators.In this drama. the educational advantages of public schooling formany young students are seriously questioned in an understaffed andovercrowded high school.Stand and Deliver (1988) is based on a true story of a LosAngeles mathematics teacher, Jaime Escalante, whose unorthodoxteaching methods guided poor Hispanic students to achieve highacademic standards on advanced placement calculus exams. Becauseof the unusually high scores, ETS testers suspect cheating, forcingthe students to re-take the test to prove their abilities.Films like Teachers and Stand and Deliver dramatize how a vastmajority of urban American children attend the same public schoolbuildings together despite various class, ethno-religious andracial backgrounds, and regardless of the variety of modes offormal and informal tracking segregated them from one anotherduring major parts of the day. In these larger inner-city highschools, "the students tended to segregate themselves informallyaccording to ascriptive social criteria or vocational aspirations"(Cremin, 1988, p. 645).The comprehensive high school was diversified to allow studentsaccess to a broad range of academic, vocational and culturalopportunities. However, only those students who knew how to takeadvantage of them were rewarded. In Stand and Deliver educational51opportunities are stressed but at the same time student goals hadto be supported by family expectations to take advantage of them.Permeating this educational system in the United States wasthe notion of assessment and accountability, driven by the FederalGovernment and National Assessment of Educational Progress wherequantitative values and managerial techniques were employed "tomaximize the ratio of quantifiable outputs to inputs" (Tanner andTanner,1980,p.731). But more important was the "hidden curriculum"taught through the newspapers and over television which belied thefaith and trust people had in authority and government. TheWatergate investigation assessed the role of President Nixon andhis cover-up of illegal wiretaps. The impact of this televisioninvestigation on the issue of trust placed in elected officialsdefinitely filtered down into the screenplays of these two films.This cultural context of the 1970s, for both Stand and Deliver and  Teachers, becomes the thematic reality faced in the films byteachers involved with issues of integrity and trust at the schoollevel. Together with what Cremin describes as the "popularization"and "multitudinousness" of educational institutions available tothe American student, there developed a third factor to add adifferent character to the nature of schooling, namely"politicization", the increased use of education for social andpolitical ends. In this way, the early Progressive Educationdebates of the 1930s came under discussion once again.When John Dewey's colleague George S. Counts asked in 1932,52"Dare the school build a new social order?" Dewey knew at thattime that schools could certainly join political forces withsociety at large to attempt "a new social order". As early as 1916Dewey elaborated his ideas about the educational requirements forstudents reared in an industrial and post-industrial society.Cremin informs us that Dewey claimed "schooling must be viewed asa reformist device not only to teach youngsters to think clearlyand independently but to understand the essential character of thenew industrial society" (Cremin, 1988, p.650).Cremin also points out that during the 1970s, "Deweyanrhetoric about the schools allying themselves with the forces ofreform was indicative of a widening effort on the part of variousinterest groups in local communities ...to harness the schools tosome view, in Aristotle's phrase, of "the good life". The resultsof "interested groups" was the influx of extra-curriculum materialsthat advanced their viewpoint about a range of issues, onconservation, on nuclear energy, on foreign imports, on abortion,on race relations, and on morality. So that education in the 1970sand 1980s became an arena for all forms of "didacticism" where thefreedom to study and learn were replaced by efforts of these"interest groups" to indoctrinate students for social, political orreligious purposes (Cremin, 1988, p 651).Both films mentioned strongly illuminated these issues butalso reveal common values of a "Christian-Republican" society whichis attempting to help students continue their education on their53own. The films succeed because they are able to take students'needs and interests as the basis for education: that the firstthing a teacher needs to do is to treat them as human beings, andnot as "delinquents" or "misfits" or "clowns", then the process oflearning can take place. In Teachers and Stand and Deliver, we seethe images of teachers as "romantic rebels" make committments tostudents and their needs. As they demonstrate the art of teachingviewers recognize the power trust and caring has in encouraging andsupporting the educational growth of students. That is the messageof the rebel teacher in Teachers. The schools were built for the"kids" to help direct "the learning process" and not for thepurpose of exploitation by other interest groups.54CHAPTER FOURImages of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Films of the 1930sIntroduction to Why Shoot the Teacher? and Sylvia Romanticism is based on a vision of a human potential. Inliterature this future orientation allows one's imagination to seeknew worlds or to return to old ones to recapture a moment ofemotional intensity. Most Romantics believed that a recovery ofthis past was a time of bliss and enchantment.The two films reviewed in this chapter portray two youngschool teachers coming to terms with the harshness of rural lifeand the difficulties they encounter with students from a differentcultural world. The images of these teachers revel how theyintroduce new teaching methods and establish certain patterns ofteacher-student relationships which inspire confidence andenthusiasm in learning In each film narrative, we discover howboth teachers, as romantic rebels, reject the traditionalconformity-ridden conventions of school adminstrators while tryingto nurture the intellectual and artistic abilities in theirstudents. As culture bearers, these teachers show their studentshow they can enrich their lives and liberate themselves.Why Shoot the Teacher? (1982) - Directed by Silvio NarizzanoThis film is based upon the romantic memories and recollectionsof the author, Max Braithwaite, in recalling his first teachingexperiences in Willowgreen, Saskatchewan during the Dirty Thirties.55Max Brown, his fictional name, is an adolescent dreamer, a Romanticidealist fresh out of Normal School in Montreal. In the openingscene at the railway station, we perceive a young man who believes,as a new teacher, he can make a contribution to the world. As Maxsays farewell to his family and friends, the viewer becomes awarethat Max is going to travel some 2000 miles to a small town inSaskatchewan to pursue his ambitions as a school teacher. On hisarrival, Brown's romantic dreams are rudely shaken by the bittercold winds of a Depression-struck prairies and an impoverishedrural school district.The autobiographical novel by Max Braithwaite was adapted tothe screen by James DeFelice and shot on location in Hanna,Alberta. By contrasting the harsh realities of the prairies withthe innocent idealism of the new school teacher, the films capturesthe comic ironies faced by Max Brown as he tries to survive hisfirst year of teaching in the absurd conditions of Willowgreen.This rites-of-passage tale shows how he develops into aromantic rebel, in his constant attempt to overcome the manyhardships, trials and ordeals of being a teacher. In thesestruggles he is able to maintain his own sanity and his life aswell. By enduring his first winter in this unforgiving environment,he earns the respect of his students and after his final argumentwith the school inspector, he gains a measure of self-esteem as ateacher in this small rural community of Saskatchewan.From his first days as a teacher, as he learns the names and56grades of the students inside the schoolhouse, he encounters manydifferent realities of rural life not conducive to teaching. Whilehe endeavors to encourage the young boys and girls in the lowergrades, he is confronted by the mischievousness of the older boysin the school. Keeping in mind a respect for the idea of liberty,and reluctant to impose rules or use coercive measures, hetolerates the playfulness until the moment he discovers the wilfuldestruction of a new encyclopedia by an older boy. Somewhatshocked, Max forces a showdown In anger, he decides to use thestrap on Jake Stevenson, a ninth grade student."to show who is incontrol". Afterwards, as the teacher, Max realizes what he haddone. He tries to finds some solace by freeing a mouse caught inone of his traps. But Max knows he lost control as well as thedelivery of fresh water which Jake brought every day to school.In the scenes depicting his relationships with his students,Max tries to respect the contributions of each student, allowingindividual differences to flower while having them work on groupprojects. His major area of expertise is English and Drama. Hisinterest in encouraging his students to think about the world fromanother perspective is clearly shown when a scene from Shakespeareis presented with a minimum of costumes and props to an audience ofyounger students. One student realizes the universality of thescene, and Max jokingly agrees with him by saying, withouthesitation, that "Shakespeare was from Saskatchewan".The film depicts the characteristics of a good teacher as57found in other Canadian novels of the prairies evaluated by Oster(1972). Oster discovered in his study that "The good teacher isinvariably depicted as a warm, responsive person who...seeks tounderstand the cultural milieu in which he has to operate; and herespects the customs and beliefs of a community with differentsocial and cultural backgrounds" (p.164).The director chose to photographed many scenes in Alberta witha style verging on Surrealism. It helps present the harsh, coldreality of this vast prairie landscape as a forbidding and dream-like environment. He uses many long shots, usually taken tointroduce a sequence or to conclude one; Max or the students areseen arriving at school alone or in small groups, silent andisolated from each other. The other worldliness of the landscapeand its inhabitants struggling in the wintery cold underlines thebasic drama in the film. How can anyone, even a new teacher,survive, in such a remote and isolated environment?The basement of the one-room school house with its chemicaltoilet and Quebec wood stove provide Max with a bed and smallkitchen. Max calls the living quarters "the black hole ofCalcutta", from which he dutifully appears each morning to meet hisclass. The trap-door provides a comic entrance for Max and givesthe camera an opportunity to give the viewer a worm's eye view ofthe classroom.The viewer's first impression of the interior of the schoolis presented by comically since Max has to rush to the basement to58relieve himself. The camera set-up gives us a full shot of theroom, its desks lined up in rows facing a blackboard that runs thewidth of the room. After the visit to the toilet, Max views hisbasement suite, while his host explains why nobody wants to housethe teacher full-time. The camera set-up catches Max lookingstoically out of the basement window as he learns about tax creditsand the lowly regard the community has for the teacher. Underneaththis scene background music plays a mournful tune of solitude. Thefilm cuts to the empty schoolroom where the host holds out thestrap from the teacher's desk and slaps it over his hand. "Use thestrap", he advises Max, "show the kids who's boss". The film cutsback to Max, now seated in the back row, saying, "I won't beneeding it". But he is warned " Get use to using it 'cause thereare some big kids in the class". The camera takes a close-up of theman as he smashes the strap over his hand and cruelly laughs at theidea. Then, it cuts to a close-up of Max, half smirking as he thinkabout this sadistic streak of his host. The next scene takes placeoutside of the school as the man rides off leaving Max alone withhis trunk. The camera first follows the man as he disappearsacross the vast countryside while Max yells to him of thesacrifices he has made. Then we see a long shot of Max taking histrunk in hand as the camera moves back and reveals the lonelyschoolhouse and figure dwarfed by the huge prairie landscape. Thissequence of shots visually sets up the drama and simultaneouslycarries the basic theme of the film. We are now ready to see how59Max will battle both the expectations of the community and thenatural elements of this strange environment to succeed as the newschoolteacher.The confinement and isolation from other human beings isemphasized as Max becomes dependent upon contact with a number ofadults in the community. The most important but bitter-sweetrelationship occurs with the unexpected arrival of Alice Field, anattractive young married woman whom Max rescues during a winterstorm. She was one of the parents who helped set up and clean thebasement room on his arrival. In this sequence, her overnight staywith Max allows the director to contrast a desirable romanticaffair with the grim reality of a British war bride trying toescape from the pains of another pregnancy and the chores ofmotherhood. Max desperately wants to take advantage of thisunusual turn of events. At first, the reading of a play by NoelCoward on the infidelities of marriage life brings them intointimate relations but Alice discourages Max from further sexualintimacies perhaps because of her fear that her husband would bringunknown harm to Max.Other conflicts between parents and Max arise due to hisconcern for his student's health and welfare. At a lunchtimebreak, he decides to share his lunch with a few students obviouslyin need of a more substantial meal. Later on, at a community danceheld in the schoolhouse, the father of these students tells theteacher what his job really is, namely to "put stuff into their60heads" while it is my job "to put stuff on the table to fill theirbellies". But if he does overstep his bounds as a teacher, in otherscenes he fights for his idea of liberty and freedom of choice.While he knows he has little control over his workingconditions, salary, and sources of food, a serious conflict ariseswhen the schoolboard chairman, Mr. Bishop, set conditions on hisparticipation in a political rally for a "socialist party", "thoseradicals who always want to change things". But Max Brown showshis determination not to be told what he can and cannot do. OnceMr. Bishop tells him he cannot speak , Max stands up for his rightsto say what he wants to say. "Isn't this a democracy"? When Mr.Bishop says yes it is, Max leaves to find Harris to agree to speakat the "socialist" meeting. He quickly forms in his mind a speechabout the conditions of poverty in the midst of plenty and the needto improve the state of the poorly equipped schools.At the end of the school year, a final confrontation occursbetween the teacher and the school inspector. While waiting for hisarrival, the children seize the opportunity to hunt for gophertails. This causes them to forget all about the impendinginspection. When Inspector Woods cannot draw out the desiredanswers to his questions, he asks Brown for his daily journal.Brown responds that he is too busy preparing lessons for the tengrades in the school. Inspector Woods then unwisely pokes his noseinto the teacher's desk to discover the pile of gopher tails thestudents have just collected. As Max tries to explain to the61inspector, a running debate ensues wherein Inspector Woods statesthat Max is not fit to teach children and that he has neverwitnessed such a badly taught class. Furthermore, the inspectorstates that he will not recommend Max Brown to the board tocontinue as the teacher.At this moment, Max rebels against the traditional dogma ofthe inspector and clashes with him over his methods. The schoolinspector argues that textbook knowledge should be memorized by thestudents but Max counters that the textbooks published in Ontariohave nothing in them about rural life to help the students learnabout their own environment and themselves. Max Brown, as theteacher, advocates an education that "opens the minds of thestudents -- one to stimulate intellectual curiosity". Moreover,Max implies that this kind of education must develop knowledge andskills which transform student interests and talents intoworthwhile social and economic capabilities.This final battle wins the respect of Jake, the older studentand re-enforces the image of this teacher as one will fight for thethe welfare of his students. Also the scene reflects the majorteaching strategy employed by the teacher. Throughout the drama wehave seen the teacher in control of what was taught and how heimplemented the basic curriculum. So, while Max, as the newteacher is perceived as powerless regarding salary and livingspace, he is shown in many scenes as quite strong in arguing firstwith Mr. Bishop for his political rights and then with Inspector62Brown with regard to the basic curriculum, means of instruction,pupil behaviour and communication to the parents.Max Brown's romantic idealism in teaching is tested throughoutthis film narrative. While he does express deep doubts about hissituation, the image of a teacher the viewer perceives is one whodesires an educational program devoted to the interests of thechild and much closer to what is happening in the outside world.The teacher also demonstrates that learning is not a mechanicalprocess but of active engagement of the student through a varietyof activities to develop skills which helps the child gain a senseof self-worth. As viewers, we believe Max will return for anotheryear of teaching to share his rebellious nature with his studentsto further enrich their lives. The outcome is positive.Sylvia (1985), Directed by Michael FirthAs a teacher and writer, Sylvia Ashton-Warner exemplied amodern-day Romantic, a person possessed by a creative inner vision.The film biography, titled Sylvia, is based upon two auto-biographies, Teacher and I Passed This Way. In the preface to thefilm, Ms. Ashton-Warner speaks to many a gifted woman who had todeal with the creative side of her make-up while searching for herown individuality through creative work. In recognition of thisdistinct "other self", she states that she "does not wish to bejust a plaything of fate, or a toy, but a liberated woman free tochoose her own encounters in life".63Ms. Ashton-Warner's romantic attitude and determination tochoose her own destiny becomes the central theme of this engagingfilm portrait of her struggles as a young primary school-teacher.Her personal demons or "monsters" that drive her creativesensibilities have already caused an emotional burn-out. First, sheis seen traveling to a remote colonial village in New Zealand withher husband, Mr. Henderson, and her three children to continue hercareer as a teacher and artist after a full recovery. On arrival,Mr. Gullen, the school superintendent, advises Sylvia that "thesystem is imperfect but it works". Then, knowing her previousschool history, Mr Gullen states that "its your scaffolding; you'llexhaust yourself if you try to build without it".The film narrative takes place during the first year of theSecond World War, where the dominant Western European cultureimposes its values and beliefs upon the native people of NewZealand. The underlying assumption is that the native Maori cultureis perceived by the English residents as "exotic" and "pagan", andnot deemed worthy of intellectual or social recognition. As anethnic minority, the Maori people were being colonized or"Westernized" culturally by the English school system. Thus, theMaori people were considered as social and economic liabilities forthe white Europeans.Sylvia's major assignment is to teach reading and writing tothe Maori children. She attempts to supplant the precedingmilitary tone and regimentation already established by previous64school masters with a more informal, individual and communicativeatmostphere. However she quickly discovers that she is trapped byreading material that is foreign to the native Maori children.But, as Sylvia instinctively rejects the situation she findsherself in, she is not quite sure about how to replace the readerwith other appropriate learning materials.Sylvia tells her husband, the headmaster of the school, thisstate of affairs. The reading disabilities of her young studentsare directly connected to the Janet and John reader, an Englishtextbook about white youngsters "revoltingly nice to each other".Sylvia realized that this reader was a means towards "culturalimperialism" and that having Maori children learn those words andthose behavioural patterns was outright "cultural bullying".A chance event allows Sylvia and her husband to attend thefuneral for a young Maori child and witness their rich ceremonialrituals. From this moment, Sylvia is drawn to the Maori culture andtheir creative spirits. She turns her attention to the children andtheir lifestyle and finds a complex and rich pagan heritage littleresembling her English culture. Soom Sylvia begins to sketch thechildren at home and at play to directly satisfy her own creative"monster". (Quick cuts to an abandoned Maori mask laying in theschool yard are part of the foreshadowing in the film). But at thispoint, Sylvia is pondering just how she can change her outmodedteaching techniques and find a new perspective that allows her tobreak away from the traditional school practices and continue to65work freely and creatively as an artist and teacher.In her own way, she apparently begins to follow the advice ofart educators, Lismer and Dengler, who visited New Zealand earlierand lectured on a revolutionay theory on art education. Theysuggested school teachers allow the artistic activities of a childtake a central place in primary school education. This theoryadvocated that the artworks of a child provide each one with apicture of him or herself within the child's own culturalenvironment. Thus, this kind of artistic expression leads naturallyto the discovery and understanding of a child's own identity.But before she learns how to introduce this theory in theclassroom, the film's requisite romance, begins when the Romantichero, Mr. Taylor, as the school inspector, arrives early onemorning on a motorbike. A few notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphonyon the piano by Sylvia brings the class to attention, Mr. Taylorasks for the workbooks and other records of school achievements.Realizing her vulnerable position, Sylvia confesses outright to notbelieving in teacher's workbooks nor in the English reader. "Whatis required surely", she cries out, "is somehow to reach thesechildren." As the school inspector is about to leave, Sylvia sitsdown at the piano and accompanies the children as they sing theABC's. This performance catches Mr. Taylor, who turns and says,"Someone once said a good teacher needs enormous spirit and a goodheart. I'm sure you'll discover a way".With this encouragement, Sylvia discovers an abandoned66cottage, and with her husband's blessings, seizes this opportunityto begin her own creative work to satify her own demons. She findsinspiration in the pagan world of the Maori, drawing and paintingthe young children in their own environment. Later, in theclassroom, she begins a large-scale mural completely peopled byMaori children and their culture artifacts. Her activitiesculminate in salvaging the forgotten Maori totem mask now given newpowers atop a gateway to the school. For Sylvia, the artisticexperiences restore her life as the powerful Maori gods play theirpart in giving Sylvia back her self-confidence as a school teacher.Sylvia is able to ignite the creative energies of her studentsby displaying her own artwork around the classroom, where thesubjects depicted are the students themselves. The students beginto connect the images to their own culture, and Sylvia knowinglyhelps them create their own learning materials. Under her guidance,the students begin to connect words with these images, drawing upontheir own fantasies and emotions. Because the students eagerly wantto possess their own words and images, they become intensivelyinvolved with English words and their own visual representations,The next step is taken when the students begin writing their ownstories based on their own experiences. In this manner, Sylviahelps each student realize their own identity by linking it withtheir own creative work.By using this method, Sylvia realizes that sex and violenceare primary subject-matter for these children. Their stories67contain acts of destructiveness which express their instinctivefears relating to authority and discipline. Bombs dropping, houseburnings and ghost stories fill their imaginations. These storiesbecome part of their creative freedom in grasping the ways of theworld. Sylvia further develops the curiosity of the children bytaking them outside the confines of the school. Here they makedirect contact with nature, exploring and discovering other formsof life. The film intercuts a number of sequences where theseoutdoor expeditions become the source material for the mural thatSylvia is painting inside the classroom. When the camera zooms inon the Maori mask after detailing various outdoor activities, thefilm cuts to a closing set-up showing Sylvia completing the muralwith the image of the mask on the new school portal. This visualsequence is striking because it combines both the narrative and thethematic concepts of the film at the same time.Sylvia's new learning materials captures the imagination ofMr. Taylor, and he encourages Sylvia to present her new pedagogywith her drawings and key vocabulary to Mr. Gullen. But when hermanuscript on new methods to teach literacy reaches Wellington, Mr.Gullen immediately scuttles the reading scheme by saying that "thedepartment supplies the reading material". The coming confrontationwith Sylvia becomes apparent as Mr. Gullen agrees to look into thematter and visit the school.While Sylvia quests for educational recognition, the film alsocontinues to reveal the growing friendship with Mr. Taylor as well68as with a local nurse. The romantic love affair with Mr Taylorculminates when the Henderson's, the nurse and Mr. Taylor go on anidyllic picnic into the primitive, shimmering forests and rivers ofthe countryside. The natural sunlit landscape, captured by thecamera, assists the "hide and seek" ritual of love-making, andreveals their romantic encounters in the forest. While temporarily"lost in the woods" Sylvia is caught within her lover arms. "Youare the most passionate teacher I ever met." "I'm not a teacher...I only supply the conditions".Mr Gullen and his staff visit the school to witness Sylvia'sinnovative teaching methods with native children. When Seven, oneof the Maori students, stands up and reads in Maori, Mr. Gullenexpresses astonishment, saying "What was that all about?" In herdefence, Sylvia explains that the first words children learn toread are words of fear and sex. However, as she realizes that Mr.Gullen and the other school officials are not impressed by herunorthodox methods, she decides to attack the hidebound educationalcurriculum imposed upon the native Maori people in New Zealand.She states that "if you force an alien culture upon them, theyrebel - that's war, and we can stop war through understanding theirways. When you alienate children they refuse to read, so naturallythey do badly in schools. They can't get jobs and they get intotrouble." However, in attempting to liberate the native studentsfrom the tyranny of the curriculum and the causes of illiteracy,Sylvia was not persuasive. Mr. Cullen flatly states to her that69"The department supplies the reading"For her rebellious attitude, she receives a grading of nil.Upon reading her evaluation with Mr. Taylor, she rightlyunderstands that she is being punished for straying from the "oldideas". Intent on making a complaint and to recover her manuscriptfrom Mr. Taylor, her school inspector, she returns to Wellington.Upon her arrival at the school offices, she is given a bureaucraticrunaround by the school administrators including Mr. Cullen.Unceremoniously, Sylvia is told by this official that hermanuscript was "accidently" burnt in an office clean-out. Further,her grading hides the real point that she is totally unsuited toteaching. In fact, her husband has been given a new posting asheadmaster in an urban school. This will remove her need tostruggle any further as a school teacher.Her defeat is mirrored on the sad faces of the children whenshe returns to the school. The young Maori students are seenrepeating orally the math tables without enthusiasm or interest.The rote-method of learning has returned, led by a stern and severeteacher with a disciplinary rod in hand, The viewer recognizes theregimented and repressive educational system that Sylvia attemptedto replace. For now, she is powerless to say anything. She returnsto Wellington with her husband and children, knowing her attemptsin reaching children by learning about their culture and specialinterest was a very successful.Although this docu-drama is placed historically within the70late 1930s, Sylvia was aware of the "cultural imperialism" or"selective tradition" operating upon the educational curriculum atthat time. In the process of finding herself as an artist, shediscovered her own creativity as a teacher. Her inspiration camefrom the power of the human imagination to encourage and developone's personality. She was also aware that the creative growth ofa child can be easily crushed or destroyed by a hostile schoolenvironment and mechanical methods of teachings. In this regard,she found herself by becoming a romantic rebel who wisely followedher own "inner vision".Sylvia addresses the political inequalities that still existwithin the dominant public school system. While the film payshommage to this teacher, it also is timely in presenting thepolitical obstacles that a romantic rebel like Sylvia facedconcerning replacing the "traditional curriculum" with the adoptionand implementation of a "new curriculum" which fosters a romantic-humanist learning orientation.In Why Shoot the Teacher, we witness an new school teachersoon becoming a spokeman for student rights and an advocate forchange. While the film portrays this teacher overcomingenvironmental conditions, it also suggests that a new image of ateacher has emerged, one who is not afraid to take to task schooladministrators and inspectors on the value of education for eachindividual student in a classroom. In both films, the romantic ideaof freedom from the tyranny of conventions and rules prevails.CHAPTER FIVEImages of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Films of the 1950sIntroduction to IF...(1968) and Dead Poets Society (1989)Jean Vigo's Zgro de conduite, produced in 1933, becomes theimplicit reference point for Lindsay Anderson's IF. .(1968). Inmany ways, it is Vigo's remarkable perspective of rebellion at aboys' boarding school, using surreal images of fantasy incorporatedwithin biting political satire on an upper-class boys school inFrance, that makes this film a classic.Vigo's Zgro de conduite has a different playful tone andtexture from that of IF... It is full of the spirit of youthseeking ways to challenge and defy the authority of the repressiveschool system and its teachers. Students are aided and abetted bya new school teacher who treats the children with knowing sympathyand respect. In a way, he has a Chaplinesque sense of anarchy thatindirectly favors the spirit of these children in their quest foradventure, search for freedom from the tyranny of their teachers,and a desire to have their daily lives reach the potency of theirdreams and fantasies.In a series of anarchical and surreal dream sequences, Vigodemonstrates the power of film to capture the mental processes ofdreaming as the students enact a rebellion in their sleepingquarters which allows them to attain their own wish fulfilments toengage in a free-for all. The film concludes with another dream7172sequence, planned by three of the students detained for misbehaviorby their head master, a narrow-minded dwarf who cannot toleratechildren. In this final assault on the teachers, the studentsappear on the rooftops, hurling their books and sundry pots andpans down upon an assortment of the Establishment gathered togetherfor Speech Day. Like a dream, these authority figures are seenfrom the point-of-view of the children, acting out their pompousroles in full regalia, while the rest of the group are paintedballoons that easily explode when struck by books and othermissiles. After completing their attack on the authorities theboys fly away over the rooftops singing in triumph.A subversive stance lies at the heart of IF.... DirectorAnderson has transposed the entire framework of Vigo's masterpieceas an act of hommage as well as a means of attacking theEstablishment and its educational system. His main character, Mick,is the romantic rebel and the unofficial "teacher" of other youngupper-class boys at this traditional preparatory school. Together,they battle the sadistic and repressive disciplinarians who seek tocrush and destroy their individualism and non-conformity in thename of authority and tradition.As an active member of the English Free Cinema movement ofprotest over the social position of "ordinary people" during the1950s, Anderson was engaged in personal statements throughdocumentary reportage. Associated film-makers included directorsKarel Reisz and Tony Richardson who "positioned themselves against73the artificiality and stereotypes of Hollywood, which they saw asconformist, in favor of a personal poetic observation of reality,an affectionate look which respected its material enough to avoiddistortion" (Cook,1985 p.149). Anderson's view of a socially andpolitically responsible cinema was combined with his argument thata film-maker should make films which engage in statements that "actas a commentary on contemporary society and should reflect thecommitment of the film-maker to certain "basic values" (p.148).Politically, for Anderson, these value claims were posited in aversion of liberal humanism together with a Brechtian ideologyabout the methods of production and audience involvement.IF... (1968) - directed by Lindsay AndersonIF... is Anderson's first attempt at a political allegorybased upon his own memories of his English private school. Byincorporating the surrealist film techniques of Vigo as well as theBrechtian techniques of "distantiation", he is able to disengagethe viewer from the harsh realities of this educational systemwhile carefully advancing the moral principles behind the Romantictheories of rebellion and revolt against such tyranny.Like the earlier French New Wave films of Godard and Truffaut,Anderson invites the spectator to identify with the leadingcharacter, Mick, in order to develop a psychological framework thatcan project the mind-set of this character as it is formed andaffected by the social and political system in place. The drama74then becomes a Romantic quest for "self" played within and againstthe roles assigned by the political construct of society.In using Surrealism, Anderson is able to show the viewer howthe imagination can liberate the mind from these particular rolesof submission and engage in human relationships that fulfil theirneeds for love and companionship. There are numerous incidentsthat brings together various images in collage-like fashion to showthe different interactions between the "real" image of the schooland the "illusionary" one.Thus, Anderson deliberately photographed the film both incolour and black and white. By alternating ,black and whitedocumentary-type sequences with dream-like sequences in colour,Anderson is able to have the film images show the conflict overwhat is imaged as "real" - shot in black and white with what isimagined or "reconstructed" by memories - shot in colour.The visual construction of the film derives from the Brechtiannotion of "alienation", which Anderson uses to keep the viewerintellectually responsive to the film narrative. The director alsobreaks the film narrative into eight episodes. Each episodedemonstrates the actions of the school officials to those actionsof the central hero and his two colleagues. Eventually the twoparties come into a final confrontation that ends with a word IF. As in Vigo's film, the arrival of students after holidays tothe school helps the director introduce the leading characters andraise the question of what will happen to our revolutionary senior75students. The hero, Michael, comes in as a mysterious visitormasked by a scarf in true romantic fashion, to join his classmates.They show him a magazine photograph of a Black freedom fighterwhich becomes a foreshadowing of future activities. We also gazeupon a wall of photographs linked together by themes of war andrevolution which are supported by Michael stating that "War is theonly creative act". Sexual preferences also are indicated by apin-up photo. Michael (Mick) exclaims in true Romantic fashion that"to walk naked into the sea, make love and then die" epitomizes thenotion of living for an intense moment of life. Later, he paganattitude towards life is revealed when Michael is caught at dressinspection wearing a long necklace made of animal teeth. Hisprefect confiscates it and calls Michael a degenerate.From this first confrontation to later ones the messageconveyed to the students, both juniors and seniors is that learningentails getting "it" right. Mick and his classmates realize thatthey are in a "cloning" operation. Deviate behavior or any signsof self-expression or individuality is quickly suppressed.Regimentation and standardization of the students through uniformsand knee-jerk reactions to commands of the prefects rule theschool. If you get "it" wrong you suffer the penalty - not onlyfrom peer pressure but also from the schoolhouse whips led by Mr.Roundhouse, the senior prefect and head disciplinarian for theCollege. Roundhouse senses the "slack" and non-conformity of thethree seniors, and decides to set an example at the College by76nipping the "decadent attitude" of these seniors in the bud. InEpisode Five he enacts the punishment of Michael and his twofriends with a brutal whipping, heard by all the studentsthroughout the dormitory. Beaten and humiliated, Michael plans hisrevenge with his classmates on College House.In contrast to the sadistic punishments and military controland regimentation demonstrated from morning to night at thisschool, there are a number of Romantic rituals that Mick and hisbuddies engage in which bring out the youngful spirit of freedomallowing them to liberate themselves from the confinements andregulations of the school. In one scene, the boys are found in thegymnasium swordfighting like the Three Musketeers. The mock battlehas Mick winning in romantic style. Another has the two boyspretending to duel and die in street fight, again demonstratingtheir living for the moment. This is followed by a free-wheelingflight into the countryside during Springtime on a stolenmotorbike. On their arrival at a country pub Michael becomes aparamour and begins a ritualistic love-making scene with thewaitress who transforms into a seductive "dark-haired beauty" whilehis friends watch. Cinematically, the entire sequence becomes asurrealistic fantasy as the images and the music collide breakingdown the time/space reality. With comic emphasizes on the musicalphrases, the mating ritual.brings out the manly "beast' in Michael.After this conquest, the girl joins the boys on the bike astogether are pictured doing "flying" stunts on and off the highway.77In Episode Six, Michael visits a stargazing student whobelieves that nature has a plan within the vastness and mystery oflife in the Universe. Because it is expanding so rapidly, thestudent carries a remote hope that another Earth will be discoveredwhere English is spoken. Mick takes over the telescope and again weview the young "dark beauty" he desires in his dreams. Then wewitness the taking of an oath of blood, a vow of Death to theOppressor, for liberty and justice.Each episode is introduced by images of Christ held high instained glass windows of the Church, a power over man. The priest,a mathmatics teacher, is seen in earlier episodes as a child-molester, who ironically gives Protestant sermons on the corruptionand sinfulness of mankind. Alluding to Christ as the commandingofficer, the priest addresses the congregation with a warlikemetaphor, urging them to join up with the "morality" of the Churchand fight against the pagan sinners and disbelievers. This becomesthe battle cry to save the Empire from the godless and demonstratesthat the traditional elitist upper-clas eduation functions as atransmission of the English cultural heritage.In Episode Seven, the War maneuvers points out the militarytone of this cultural heritage. In this episode, the actions ofthe three student soldiers turn into a rebellion as Mick leads themto kill the Priest. This fantasy death of the Priest has theHeadmaster exclaims to the boys in his study that "I take thisseriously, very seriously". He then dismisses the boys after they78apologize to the Priest who is surrealistically presented emergingfrom a coffin-like large drawer. In doing penance, they have toclean out various stage props buried underneath the stage. As theyrummage through this dark, forgotten storage area we witness theyoung boys uncover hidden secrets from the past, from bottledfetuses of aborted babies to a weapons cache that was buried andlong forgotten.This sets up the final sequences in the film where honouredguests, authority figures of the school and other dignitaries cometogether for "Crusader Day". Again, we face the General as therepresentative of the military together with the Archbishop, paradeinto the chapel to speak to the families and friends of the school.Here, the tradition of honour, duty and loyalty is duly recognizedby the General in setting similar to one in The Dead Poets Society.However, in this film, smoke and fire break out on the stagedriving the speakers and the audience out into the parade fieldwhere they are met with machine gun fire and mortar shells, asMichael and his "crusaders" massacre the crowds from the rooftopsof the school.The "Freedom Fighters" are in their glory, until theHeadmaster calls a cease fire and asks the fighters "to Trust me".However, in this surrealistic dream sequence, he is shot betweenthe eyes, and falls dead on the grass. Our last image is of Michaelfiring an automatic machine-gun into the crowd and cinematicallydestroying his oppressors.as the film scrolls in the word IF....79The political message from Anderson is clear - membership inupper-class private schools should not hold students as hostages toan bankrupt educational system, one that cannot address creativityor accept any non-conformity in their students. If such schoolscontinue to operate within an academic tradition which is notconcerned with the social and political rights of its studentsthen, harsh discipline and narrow-minded forms of teaching willreproduce a society unable to adapt to the changing technologicaland political realities. As the History teacher bellows out to hisdormant class in the beginning of the film, "Do you have a view?",speaking directly to Mick, who already knows what beliefs aromantic rebel has to have to break free from the tyranny of therules and regulations of the academic game.Anderson, by using Mick as his alter-ego, gives us a Brechtianstyle history lesson on education. As noted in Chapter Three, thisfilm is a political allegory about the causes of social andpolitical rebellion within an upper-class school representing theruling class. This class continues the traditions of the pastregardless of the changes going on outside that society. It seeseducation as a transmission of a military-religious culturalheritage now considered by many to be archaic and out-of-touch within a post-industrial world.Thus, as a polemicist, Anderson wants an audience to ask twoquestions of themselves concerning change and continuity afterviewing the film. Historically, does a country repeat the patterns80of the past, fading away as more powerful forces come on tochallenge them? Or does a country maintain the status quo withoutany real strategy for future developments?The Dead Poets Society (1989) - Directed by Peter WeirPeter Weir's Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams, isa coming-of-age film which takes place in 1959 at Welton Academy,an all-male preparatory school in New England. The film focusesupon the lives of seven adolescent students. They come under thetutelage of a new English teacher who advocates a radical change intheir education. Through the student-teacher relationship, the filmraises many questions concerning the image of the teacher as aromantic rebel in such a school and the role of education duringthe rites of passage from preparatory school to college.The viewer can imagine that screenwriter Tom Schulman modeledhis freethinking English teacher after the Romantic poet John Keatsnot just because he named him John Keating but also because heconstructs an image of this teacher as a modern-day romantic rebel.In the opening sequence, the film image captures one visualmetaphor of the burning candle carrying the light of knowledge asthe titles roll. Through the quasi-religious ritual young boys areinitiated into the traditional "truths" through the transmission ofthis symbolic "light" from the elders of the school to the youngerboys. This opening ceremony is led by the headmaster, clothed inacademic robes like a high priest, evoking the pillars of wisdom in81his appeal to parents and students to recite them together."Tradition", Honour, Discipline, Excellence."After this ceremony, the headmaster introduces an old alumnusof the school and a new member to the faculty, an English teacher,Mr. John Keating. He is presented just like the other teachers inacademic robes. Yet, a close-up reveals an enigmatic but whimsicaldemeanor. Because Robin Williams portrays the role of this teacher,audience expectations of this actor anticipate some disruption inthe sanctity of the school. It also foreshadows the basic enigmaand conflict. Which educational method seeking the light ofknowledge will this teacher follow - one based upon traditionalvalues or one based upon romantic-humanistic ones?The major protagonists in this drama are also presented, firstTodd with his parents - "with big shoes to fill", then Neil,sandwiched between his father and mother - "we're expecting greatthings". In sequences following the ceremonies, all seven studentsare shown in the dormitory wearing identical traditional schooljackets. To complete the introduction of a new study group. theJudas figure, a red-haired boy named Cameron, is pointed out as aloud-mouthed and opinionated conformist.Knowing what subjects they will take, the director presents amontage of quick views of their respective teachers, all as no-nonsense academics with definite notions of formal studies anddiscipline, all going by the textbook. First, the Science teacher,then the Math teacher, then the Latin teacher giving a rote lesson82with the verb form of 'agricola' (perhaps chosen as an in-joke onthe theme of growth and nature).When we come to Mr. Keating's class, the students are seatedbefore he makes his entrance, appearing without his jacket,informally, and walking through the class whistling the theme fromBeethoven's 1812 Overture, foreshadowing his romantic tendenciesand his unorthodox teaching methods. Immediately, he makes thestudents vacate the classroom and meets them in the school lobby infront of a large picture of the school's first graduating class.Mr. Keating quickly arouses the personal and romantic concernsin these students, challenging their naivete with the Latin adageby Horace, Carpe Diem, "seize the day". This is followed by areading of Herrick's poem, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,""Gather ye rose-buds while ye may/Old Time is still a-flying". Hispersuasive appeal to Carpe Diem voices the basic Romantic creedwhich advises the boys to seize the moment in life when it comes,and to dwell in it intensely, regardless of the consequences. Asthe students gaze upon the photographic images from the past,Keating points out how similar those students were to them whenthey first came to Welton. A carefully placed cut compares Meekswith a look-alike student in the photograph, suggesting perhapsthat the student may have regretted not living life to the fullestwhen he had the opportunity.Keating's second class takes place in the classroom where hedestroys the quantitative analysis of poetry by the pedantic83Dr. Pritchard. Challenging these rules, Keating makes the boys ripthe preface out of their books. Then he quotes Thoreau on poetryas a distillation of life to be drunk to the fullest, then fromWalt Whitman, and his poem, "0 Captain, My Captain," as a means toexcite the imagination and how the power of words and ideas canchange the world. Romance and passion, coupled with the power ofwords to woo and win the day, he professes, are the reasons wemortals stay alive.Succeeding classes show Keating urging the students to writetheir own verses which express their own feelings and thoughtsabout life in class. He achieves a measure of success by drawingout Todd and his ability to find the right poetic images thatmetaphorically capture of repressive forces at work in the school.Keating strives to help the students understand how easy it is tofall into lockstep with others, to lose one's individuality and toforget how to think for oneself.Other class meetings allow Keating to demonstrate to hisstudents how natural it is to break away from the traditionalhabits of thinking by simply standing on your desk. By changingplaces, it reminds us to look at things in a different way. "Justwhen you think you know something, have a look at it in a differentway". Thus, Keating counsels the students to liberate themselvesfrom confining rules and find places to think and act freely andopenly. Further, he urges them, "When you read, consider what youthink, not just what the author thinks."84Once the students accept his challenge to strike out and findnew ground, Keating's past as a student at Welton is uncovered byNeil in the school's Annual which mentions the original Dead PoetsSociety. Under Neil's direction, the young boys decide to re-createa Dead Poets Society, just like Mr. Keating's. They convene thesecret society in the old Indian Cave on the school property Atfirst, they read a blend of poetry from Lord Tennyson, VachelLindsay and others evoking the gods of Romantic legend likeWhitman's Captain who will continue "to strive, to seek, to findand not to yield" in a semi-pagan ritual of chants.Back at school, Keating's non-conformist English classes donot go unnoticed. The conflict in pedagogy is discussed duringdinner when Mr. McAllister, the Latin teacher, thinks Mr. Keatingis taking a big risk encouraging the young boys in his Englishclass to think that they can aspire to become artists and poets.Mr. Keating replies that he is talking about free thinking, andpresents the transformational argument against the rigid thinkingand conformity of the institution. The Latin teacher quotes a poem:"Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I'll show youa happy man" Then Keating responds: "Only in their dreams can menbe truly free and it was always thus and only thus will it be".This pivotal exchange between the two language teacherscontrasts two styles of teaching and learning that start to clashhead-on at the school. The headmaster, an observer of Mr. Keating'sunorthodox teaching methods in the classroom, brings the matter to85his attention. The headmaster firmly tells Mr. Keating that "thecurriculum is set, it's proven and it works. If you question it,what's to prevent them from doing the same", referring to the factthat a student taking such liberties could lead to anarchy.The Romantic philosophy, however, has already won converts asit is further pursued by the two young schoolmates, Todd Andersonand Neil Perry. Encouraged by the liberating lectures of Mr.Keating, each in his own way delves into his own mind to exploreand examine his own inner world. As their self-esteem develops andgrows, they begin to challenge the material world of their fathers.Since Neil reconvened the Dead Poets Society, the studentsbegin to perceive a world order that directly challenges the basictraditional codes of conduct at the school. Neil becomesromantically infected with the imaginative spirit of an artist anddecides to take up acting, thus disobeying the commands of hisfather. Knox and Charles, unlike the other boys from the studygroup, continue to engage in off-campus courtships that furtherenhance their notion of love and romance.Up to this point the film narrative has succeeded in showingthe effects Keating's romantic 'liberation' has upon the behaviorof adolescent boys in a traditional boarding school. The secondhalf of the film shifts dramatically to parental disapproval as thecounter-point. The focus is upon Mr. Perry, who represents theauthoritarian father figure, as he begins to exert pressure uponNeil to conform. When Mr. Perry discovers Neil has a lead role in86the school play, he informs his son that he must resign. Thismelodramatic development has Neil, as Puck, ask for forgiveness forhis deceptions. Despite his accomplishments as an actor, the fathercomes down heavily upon Neil, pulling him out of the school andangrily placing the blame on Mr. Keating.Neil's death by suicide is less than convincing, and theclosing scenes, showing the headmaster's inquiry and the emotional'witch-hunt', remove the viewer from participating intelligentlywith the remainding scenes of the film. The outcome is obvious andpredictable. Mr. Keating is dismissed by the headmaster who citeshis unorthodox teaching methods; he is a scapegoat of the inquiry.A final scene in the classroom allows Mr. Keating his lasthurrah. As he departs from this room, an act of student defianceoccurs when Todd Anderson leads the students to stand up on theirdesks as a symbolic gesture against the dismissal of Mr. Keating.This closure of the narrative may appear to some as a triumph forMr. Keating and the image of a teacher as a romantic rebel. In itsway it does state that, yes, Mr. Keating has made a difference inthe education of these young boys.Nevertheless. there is something disturbing about this film.Some may argue that the message of this film protects the vestedinterests of those people in society whose roles as lawyers,bankers, doctors, and politicians have always supported educationalinstitutions which serve their goals but not others. This form ofsocial, political elitism is not part of the democracy notion of87equality. Other issues on education are not addressed in this film.However, the psychological and political message of the film isdefinite: a similar fate will occur to any teacher who, as romanticrebel, breaks away from established procedures and attemptstopromote^self-expression^and^student-centered^learningprograms.This makes a viewer question the validity of this story. Isthis story convincing? If a transformational program of instructionis initiated by a teacher in a respected school environment, whyshould the script follow a pattern of genre melodrama which leadsto failure and a re-establishment of the status quo? If the schoolis a seat of learning - and the symbols on education are employed,why are they not observed? In other words, who tampered with thisscript? Why did it suddenly turn its back on its original premise,its forthright attack on an educational system that perpetuatesthe Establishment and shows it for what it is. Perhaps the directordid achieve something unique and original out of such a film withthe depiction of a teacher as a romantic rebel to present theissues, at least.The film's director, Peter Weir, first gained promineaseanAustralian film-maker with his anti-war film, Gallipoli, whichfollows a similar theme: the waste and destruction of young boys bya cold and calculating British system dedicated to honour andtradition. In filming Dead Poets Society, Weir's cinematographervisually captures the Arcadian landscape with a fidelity to the88romantic tone of the script; from the tracking shots of the campusat night with its chiming bells that invoke the medieval past tothe woods and trees of the campus caught in the blue mist ofmoonlight.Romantic spirits are re-engaged by several haunting images ofstudents in black-hooded coats seeking out the old Indian cave toevoke the gods of their imagination. The change of natural lightfrom the autumnal glow of the sunsets to the frigid winterlandscapes visually support the changing romantic moods of thestudents. Other effective images of the school are captured duringthe purge. The halls are empty, and solitary figures are shown likeghostly apparitions lost in space, searching for a friendly face.The gothic arches now serve as religious frames to contain thesefloating shadows in a lonely school environment.The power of these romantic visions on the screen, however, donot save the film from its own shortcomings. Mr. Williams performswell in a soap opera of melodramatic dimensions. While noble intheme, the script does not allow his character a chance to defendhis role as a teacher or to present his arguments about theimportance of the romantic-humanist pedagogy. While Mr. Keatingsucceeds in empowering students to seize the opportunity to controltheir own learning, the hopes for self-actualization is defeated.The image of Neil, as he places his crown of thorns on hishead, to become transformed into a God, is vivid. But the followingscene brings us back into reality since his suicide undercuts the89power of his previous act and the awareness of his own state. Ifthis death was symbolic or not, the shift of the script to quietacceptance of fate goes against the initial premise of the film andof the image of a teacher as a liberating force in education.In conclusion, these two films. IF... and Dead Poets Society,are representative of the work of personally committed film-makers,Lindsay Anderson and Peter Weir. Thematically, they believecommercial cinema, supported by powerful visual images, can promotea critical mindedness into the repressive ideological structureswhich control the values, beliefs and attitudes of our society.Clearly, they argue through their particular narrative films forthe need to generate a new self-awareness of these invisiblesystems and to expand a person's consciousness of the world inwhich we live. Indirectly, they play a teacher's role in guidingviewers to the romantic-humanist view of life which encourages thedevelopment of each individual, helping us to reach our potential.Moreover, they suggest a romantic rebellion is necessary to destroythe repressive rules and conventions operating within the socialand political constructs of the traditional educational system.90CHAPTER SIXImages of Teachers as Romantic Rebels: Films of the 1980sIntroduction to Teachers and Stand and Deliver These two contemporary films are folk fairy tales aboutteachers who cope in different ways with the demoralizing anddehumanizing conditions found in inner-city American high schools.Both films are based upon the true-life experiences of teachers buteach director has taken liberties in adapting these narratives tothe screen. They are scripted as realistic fantasies that explorethe inner anxieties and aspirations experienced by each teacher.Despite the use of realistic settings, visually the directorscreate a dream-like surreal atmostphere to imply that the teacheris trapped in a nightmare of school politics. Each film sets outthe bewildering conditions and difficulties of teaching in such anenvironment, while at the same time suggesting solutions to theproblems. For Alex Jurel, the romantic rebel in Teachers, the yearsof trying to make sense out of the turmoil occurring at JFK highschool find him as a disenchanted and disillusioned teacher. Thefilm explores how Alex tries to bring his inner house in order toregain his confidence as a teacher. In contrast to Alex, JaimeEscalante, the mathematics teacher in Stand and Deliver, hasalready understood what can be meaningful to him in life when hedecides to become a high school teacher. He is driven by an innerbelief that he can contribute to the welfare of underpriviledgedstudents through the teaching of mathematics.91Both teachers, as they struggle with school politics and theirrelationships with the students, are motivated by a moralcommitment to a better world and way of life. These ethicalconcepts are implied in many scenes throughout both films becausethey are part of the fundamental conflict in each one. When theteacher emphasizes a right course of action, the trust and caringinvested in their education becomes meaningful to the students.Teachers (1985) - Directed by Arthur HillerTeachers (1985) is a narrative film about teachers who aretrapped by bureaucratic mis-managers of public education in ananonymous inner-city American high school ironically named afterJohn F. Kennedy. The screenplay is based upon the real-lifeexperiences of the producer, Irwin Russo, a former high sch000lEnglish teacher. In the hands of director Arthur Hiller, the filmstrives to be an expose of the mindless waste, apathy andmediocrity found in the public education system . More important isthe disillusionment of students caught in the grip of teacherindifference and incompetence. As a satirist, Hiller skillfullyportrays the incompetence of the school staff and bureaucracy asthey destroy the student's trust in the system. The directorialapproach is similar to that in his film Hospital, which illustratedhow that institution and its mindless bureaucracy were indirectlykilling its patients instead of saving them. The mythical notionthat public schooling in America can adequately prepare students92for adult roles as future citizens is seriously challenged by thescriptwriter and the director.The film opens on a cold winter day with the arrival ofschool buses and students, The title song underscores the question"Teacher - Teacher, can you teach me? Teacher -Teacher, can youreach me?" The lyrics, like many rock songs of the 1960s, ridiculethe school system. The scene exposes the audience to therealization that JFK High School is overcrowded; soon we learn itis understaffed and underfunded. We meet the teaching staff, someof whom have already lost their interest in the affairs of theschool. A few have degenerated into thoughtless, mechanicalbehaviour in an attempt to anesthetize themselves against dealingwith the students. The vice-principal, Roger Rubel trys to maintainsome sense of order. He takes each day as it comes.When a teacher says "I fail to see", in response to aquestion, the school psychologist "flips her lid" and attacks theteacher, blinding him with black ink from the mimeograph machine.Another teacher seeks first-aid after being bitten by a student,while a shortage of teachers on this Monday morning results in"scraping the barrel" for a substitute. A 'phone call brings anout-patient from a mental clinic into the history classroom, aperson who just happens to be a natural teacher. When Dr. Burke,the school superintendent, arrives she naturally asks "What are yourunning here, a god-damned zoo"?This metaphorical blindness on the part of the teacher becomes93symtomatic of the insanity gripping this high school. Unknowinglystudents and teachers are trapped within an unmanageable anduncaring educational system, one which seeminly fails to recognizewhat is happening. Our romantic rebel, Alex Jurel. is first seen inbed answering a call from the school reminding him to report towork. This wake-up call alerts the viewer to the fact that Alexhas become a lost dreamer caught in his own fantasy to conceal histrue identity as a teacher. When he arrives at school he decides tofix the radiator in his classroom. He, too, is unconsciouslystruggling against the crisis conditions that have enveloped thehigh school in the past ten years. Next door to him, we witnessMr. Ditto falling asleep as students automatically distribute hand-outs. As viewers we wonder when Alex will "wake-up" and assume hisrightful role as a romantic rebel, a teacher who can make adifference because "you're a teacher who cares what happens".The central conflict revolves around a lawsuit brought againstthe schoolboard by the parents of a student who graduated from JFKHigh School unable to read and write. The lawsuit challenges thethe competence of the staff and administration. Since the highschool is in danger of losing accreditation, Dr. Burke, adomineering school superintendent, is prepared to deal quickly withthe lawsuit. She knows that public opinion could kill her fundingdrive and a bond issue needed to bring funds to the school. Herfears concern the publicity the lawsuit might generate. Dr. Burkedecides that any information about this case must be controlled in94order to prevent a public outcry.Dr. Burke checks on those teachers who are part of the team,and those who will "rock the boat" with Mr. Rubel. Out of the listcomes our romantic rebel, Alex Jurel, a long-haired Social Scienceteacher. She discovers from his file that his work with the FreeSchool movement indicates that he has already escaped from thebureaucratic control of the public schools in the late 1960s, thathe was a strong advocate for student rights and had demonstratedexcellent leadership and teaching abilities.Throughout the film, Alex Jurel looms as the controversialfigure who not yield to the pressures of Dr. Burke, her lawyersand administrators. But, from the outset of the film, Jurel'sdisillusionment as a teacher shows that he is weary of the politicsgoing on in the school. He has apparently lost faith in himself asa teacher in the system. When he is given an extra assignment toreplace the counselling officer, he seizes the opportunity to dealwith the problems of Eddie Pilikian, an illiterate student.Intuitively, Alex still believes a teacher can make a difference toa student and decides on helping Eddie. He assigns him to aremedial reading class but Eddie is resistant to any change.Mr. Rubel, the vice-principal, knowing of Alex's rebelliousattitude to the present school system, talks to him in an informalway to make sure he will tow the line for the school. Jurelconfesses that he is "tired of the whole damn thing" andcontemplates quitting since he himself knows he does not want95compromise and give false testimony.As the pivotal character in the narrative, Jurel needs to bere-awakened to his calling as a teacher. A former student, LisaHammond, the lawyer handling the suit against the school, tries towin Alex over to her side. Though she realizes that JFK HighSchool has changed over the years, she is still full of romanticidealism, enough to believe that the lawsuit will bring changes inthe school. However, Jurel is aware that many have tried to changethe system but they would not pay the price. He also knows thatthe issue is not the quality of education but basically money.With Lisa slowly renewing his commitment to teaching, Jurelasks his students to examine what the responsibility of the schoolis to the community. "Tell me what's wrong with this school. Howshould I respond to the lawyer's deposition." By opening up thequestion to the entire class, Jurel is aware that he is allowingstudents the liberty to choose their own materials and forms ofself-expression. In doing the exercise, Jurel also permits them torealize what is meaningful to their own identity. "Justcommunicate", urges Jurel.Eddie Pilikian, now in Jurel's class, goes for a photo-essaythat exposes the real nature of the school. The liberation of thisstudent from any reprisals by school authorities for his unorthodoxways allows him to create a clever visual essay on how the school,its teachers and the secret narcotic squad operates. Eddie thenhas the student newspaper print his photographs. By backing up the96student, Jurel is forced to break with his buddy, Mr. Rubel. (Itis obvious that both characters carry the name of Rebel as part oftheir names.) Jurel then becomes part of the counter-force thattries to re-establish a sense of purpose to his teaching. In orderto do that, Jurel struggles with his own inabilities to function ina school system that is full of absurdities. By making contact withEddie, an intelligent but illiterate student, he begins to slowlyrecover his former confidence as an effective teacher.His "awakening" is supported by the song, On the Edge of A Dream, that underscores a fantasy love scene between Jurel andHammond. They argue over the question of whose reality one cantrust and believe in. Jurel cannot accept the blindness to thesystem and the false myths and beliefs Hammond has accepted as thetruth. But the law suit is settled out of court convincing Hammondthat Jurel was right about the issue of money.Jurel decides to resign but Eddie and Lisa persuade him toremain at the school. Jurel finally liberates himself from therules and conventions set up by Rubel and Dr. Burke when herealizes he does have the power to teach responsibly again at theschool. Rubel reminds him that half the students won't be comingback next year, but seeing the students respond to his efforts, heknows that half of the students will. Jurel then tells Roger that"the schools were not built for us, nor the unions or theadministration but for the kids." "They're not here for us, we arehere for them" Dr. Burke then replies, "Jurel, you're crazy",97Perhaps Alex is, but then he's a teacher. He also knows that thestudents can be part of the solution instead of the problem in apublic high school that is called a "looney bin".Arthur Hiller directs the film in a very episodic manner,keeping the action layered so that he can easily jump from onesituation to another. While there is only token teaching going onin some classrooms, Hiller is more interested in bringing us intothe teachers' lounge to overhear the political manouvering going onbehind the scenes especially the distrust and jealousy among theteachers.The hallways and corridors of the school are also usedvisually to symbolize the hidden pattern determining the choices ofthe students. Only Eddie Pelikian, a street-wise kid, knows how tobreak the rules, and the fire alarm, to set himself free. The filmnarrative brings to the surface the continual incompetence of theschool system to deal adequately with the education needs of thestudents. Yet, the director and the script is careful not to makeanyone an outright villain. It is the school system itself that isattacked over and over again because it is now housing variouspolitical factions that undermine the purposes of education. AlexJurel almost loses sight of his career and his inspirational giftsas a teacher. When no one really cares about the quality ofeducation available in the system except the students, then whowill see to it that their educational needs are met? It is obviousthat the person scripting this film knew from experience the "real"98importance of helping students learn the skills to read and writeso that they could take advantage of the educational resourcesrelevant to their own interests.Stand and Deliver (1988) - directed by Ramon MenendezThis film is based upon the true-life story of a Los Angelesmathematics teacher Jaime Escalante. His decision to leave a high-tech electronics firm and become a high school teacher follows hisown romantic quest to make a significant contribution to life. Hisdecision to become a high school teacher helps him combine his owntalents and intelligence with a belief in the American Dream.Escalante assumes the image of a modern Lone Ranger, a romanticrebel who is dedicated to the laws of liberty and justice for hispeople. Knowing the advantages of a good public school education,he uses his intelligence and imagination to help free students fromthe negative outcomes happening to people of poor Hispanic-Mexicandescent in the United States in the 1980s.The film opens with a series of tracking shots to place theaction in the slums of East Los Angeles. The viewer assumes thatthe film will use this environment as the battleground wherestudents from James Madison High School traffic drugs and drivestolen cars. The first scenes inside the school reveal the acceptedstereotypes of poor Hispanic-Americans students who live in the"barrios" or slums, although their homes are more than the mud hutstypical of Mexico. Here they are forced to go to high school. WhenEscalante joins the faculty at the school, as the new mathematics99teacher, he learns that the school is in real danger of losing itsaccreditation because of the many drop-outs and the loss ofteachers afraid to work in this area.Escalante is greatly, yet modestly, motivated by his ownbeliefs in freedom and equality, and like a Promethean figure,makes great sacrifices for the sake of the students in his mathclasses. The students quickly realize that this teacher is seriousabout teaching his course in a no-nonsense manner and that he willnot be intimidated by some students with their gang-like machoattitudes. In jest they call him Kemosabe, which ironically becomeshis nickname: a friend and leader to his students. Quickly, thestudents become aware that this teacher encourages the developmentof each student as long as they agree to do the assigned work Ina matter of weeks, it becomes a privilege to be in his class. Theyknow that as a dedicated teacher, Escalante will be fair and usethe school system as a tool to promote their education.His classes become open and personal for each student. Histeaching techniques are not mechanical or standardized. Instead, hefrequently uses metaphors concerning food, weather and commonknowledge to advance a mathematical concept. He also gives highpraise to a common Spanish heritage, by noting the intelligence oftheir ancestors who discovered the concept of zero By giving thesestudents a sense of pride in themselves, Escalante shatters thepopular myths that demean them by awakening in his students thegreatness of their past. This recognition by the students of a100special potential for success begins their movement towards self-actualization and emancipation from the barrios. Further, Escalantetells them that a student must have the desire in their hearts.Then they will have the required courage to cope with all the realproblems here and now and rise to the goals they have set forthemselves.In the process of building up the student's own self esteem,he helps them acknowledge two common myths holding them back fromsuccess: being from a poor, ignorant immigrant families fromMexico, and having a racial background as Latinos with identifiablenames. He then proclaims that their economic future will not bedecided by the prejudices and anti-intellectual stereotyping byothers but instead by the possession of an education that can freethem from racism. One equality is attainable through a knowledge ofmathematics, the great equalizer. Once you know that you arecompetent to compete with others in mathematics, you will possessa freedom of choice denied to other,less qualified students.Escalante re-enforces his classes the romantic notion thatthe idea of liberty comes about when they know they can make theirown choices. Then, they become free agents with the abiltity tolive according to their own codes of life. Students who havemastered calculus thus are able to seize the opportunities to seekout and find a wider range of career choices. Wisely, Escalantestates often the consequences to the students who reject theopportunity that this school and this class offers them. He knows101the drop-outs will have to accept a very limited set of jobs.available to them. letting other people to decide their destiny.Escalante knows his class becomes a ticket to economic freedom.The script focuses on one young intelligent girl who has todrop his class to work as a waitress in her father's restaurant.This scene dramaticaaly demonstrates the conflict between theteacher's beliefs in education and a parent who sees his child onlyas an economic asset. Visually, the scene is staged as a simpleevening in a resturant with Escalante play-acting as a patron whohas been short-changed by the waitress. In the ensuing argument,Escalante challenges the parent's decision to employ his daughterwhen she obviously needs further schooling to improve hermathematical abilities. Escalante suggests to the father that hehas not given his child a choice for her future. He skillfullymakes his point that she should stay in school and get aneducation that would pay far greater dividends for both of them.Escalante's teaching techniques are basically developed fromthe same kind of argument. Once converted to his way of thinking,his personality and enthusiasm for mathematics draw the students tohis classes. He uses simple illustrations and expressions repeateddaily, to help the students understand that complex and abstractmathematical ideas can be broken down step-by-step. It's as easy astic-tac-toe - or it's a piece of cake upside down.Once the ritual of attacking mathematical problems are seta field trip to his old electonics firm with his students brings to102his attention an opportunity which Escalante seizes to make goodhis assertions about math as the great equalizer. He learns aboutthe Advanced Math Placement test, which would qualify his studentsto earn a scholarship to university. Knowing that he has muchground to cover, Escalante asks the students to take summer classeswith him so that he can prepare them for the test.The test is taken with surprising results. All eighteenstudents pass. This outcome causes the Educational Testing Serviceto investigate the results. They surmise that the students"cheated". The trust that Escalante placed in the system appearsto have backfired, and as a romantic rebel he challenges the twoinvestigators to provide proof of wrong-doing. Then he accuses theETS investigators of discrimination and racism because theydiscovered that the students had Spanish surnames. Dr. Pearson, aBlack American, and Dr. Ramirez, a Hispanic-American, in their owndefence, decide to offer the test to the students again, hopingthe students will not take up the challenge.The students, who first celebrated passing the test at animpromptu swimming party, now find their dreams and hopes for thefuture placed on hold. Some become cynics gripping that even ifyou succeed, nothing changes. They begin to lose confidence andtrust in the system now that they are really qualified to be partof it. But the students decide they must accept the challenge amdtake the test again, just to remove the stigma.The last section of the film becomes the occasion for an all103night cram session at the teacher's home. Escalante proclaims inhis last prep talk, "You are the true dreamers and dreamsaccomplish wonderful things". "You're the best and tomorrow youwill prove you're the champs." This inspirational session iswithout sentimental overtones, since each student is beset by hisor her own personal doubts.In the principal's office we hear the final scores for thesecond test. Again all 18 students pass the examination. Escalanteis vindicated for his efforts and the principal shares this momentof triumph. As he leaves the school, Escalante gives a little jumpof joy in recognition of the accomplishments of his students.Visually, director Mendendez is unable to support the romanticthemes underlying this story. His televisual shooting style isinvisible, lacking any artistry or distinction. Instead he isdependent upon a series of talking head sequences where the actingperformances of the students to carry the emotional load. Theactor playing Escalante brings a physical awkwardness that belieshis caring for the students. His mixture of comedy routines witha sense of authoritative toughness makes his image of a teachercloser to a buffoon. His classroom and the school environs aredepicted without any lighting design to suggest a romantic spirit.The director also uses on-location documentary style photographyfor the actual homes and school environment of East Los Angeles,stripping away their romantic qualities.At the outset, the film introduces the viewer to the bars,104stores and other older buildings of the East side neighborhood. Itdefinitely has some romantic character but the director does useany of these locations for later action. The school is the majorsite for the story which easily changes from a graffiti-coveredclassroom into a clean and well-organized one. The playgroundbecomes a war zone with vandalizing students making sneak attacksthat are not motivated or integrated into the main narrative. WhenEscalante is shown in one sequence holding back a vengeful Angel,we, as viewers, grasp what the teacher is doing to protect him froma gang attack, but we don't understand the causes.The only romantically conceived scene occurs when Angel, thereformed older student, goes out with his former gang partner on anight ride after the test scores have been invalidated by the ETSinvestigation. When his buddy looks at the star-filled sky andwonders about his fate, Angel now realizes he has the ability toalter his fate, that the choice is up to him, but he also knowsthat there are many obstacles, such as racism, still to overcome.In frustration, Angel decides to challenge some policemen in apatrol car by saying something in Spanish to annoy them. Thepolicemen pull them over, push them around, then give them aticket. The absurdity of the action, and the meaninglessness ofthe offense contrasts with the psychological reality of the systemAngel wants so desperately to escape.Angel recognizes how the system creates inequalities ofopportunity and how imperative it is for himself to become free of105the negative myths which so far have determined his fate. Herealizes all too well that this hassle with the police is anotherinstance of others pushing him around, without caring about theirwelfare. His buddy can only curse and kick Angel for getting thefine without realizing the racial trap that he is caught in. As aschool drop-out, Angel's buddy does not realize he wasted hisopportunity to get an education. This will keep him bound to thebarrios forever.In he final pairing of films, Teachers and Stand and Deliver,the respective teachers have romantic ideals as teachers. Theirdedication to the great adventure of teaching is marked by anightmare of school politics and deception. As romantic rebels theyfight the educational bureaucracy that is a constant obstacleintruding into their lives as teachers. Both have sacrificedmarital bliss for the teaching profession. It is the challenge oftheir students that brings about a renewal in themselves asteachers which recharges their energies after they have come backfrom the brink of personal disaster. The comeback of both teachersillustrates that renewal and rebirth can be achieved throughromantic faith in the awe and wonder of youth, theirtransformations through their personal desire and capacity tosucceed, and their courage to start afresh.106CHAPTER SEVENThe Power of Film ImagesFor many of us, narrative films become analogous to Plato'smyth of the Cave, a metaphor in which prisoners trapped inside thisdarkened place believe the images or shadows projected by firelightonto a wall to be "reality". Films also are projected images oflight and dark and there is a present danger of believing that theactual world outside the theatre or "cave", resembles what wasprojected onto the screen. The problem is just how to discern therelationship between what is appearance and what is reality.Films have become prolific sources of audio-visual informationabout our world. With the ability to manipulate time and space,films more than television can mediate and restructure differentaspects of our world. They also allow us to re-construct the pastor capture present-day events. Magically films can project us intothe future through scenarios that imaginatively extend ourcreativity as human beings. Through the illusion of a space/timecontinuum, film images transform "reality" within the narrativeform to support our values and belief systems. Thus, the "reality"of these images carry the cultural value systems of our society.With this in mind, images of teachers as romantic rebels, andthe roles they play in these narratives, reveal the ideologicalassumptions of the educational system. Each film chosen in thisstudy becomes relevant when romantic-humantist teaching strategiesportray teachers imaginatively and intellectually supporting and107enriching student-centered learning.Many narrative films produce and distribute particular"ideological" content through the use of familiar genreconventions. These conventions are not "neutral" conductors ofmeaning but are designed to encourage particular meanings or"readings" while inhibiting or discouraging other meanings. Inother words, they control the social and political value structureswithin the world of the film narrative.New Wave film-makers like Francois Truffaut suggest thatnarrative films need to break away from the old realisticconventions of the past and inject new forms that relate to the newcontent being dramatized. By interweaving different aspects of"reality" into the narrative, visual images can becomecinematically reflexive, allowing the viewer to intellectuallyconsider the meanings of the images. On the basis of how weperceive these images, the "truth" or "reality" of the eventsdepicted in the film are then made believable to the viewer.The six narrative films in this study clearly illustrate theimage of a teacher as a romantic rebel. They all have a commonepisodic structure that does not necessarily follow theconventional plot formulas of genre films. More importantly, theyhelp viewers visualize various facets of school life and therelationship of students with teachers. Traditional school ritualsare then contrasted with new teaching strategies employed by theteacher-protagonist that precipitate the romantic rebellion.108The new teacher may be the primary cause of challenge to thesystem, or a senior student in the case of IF..., or a formerstudent, as in Teachers, may set off the conflict between theconception of teaching and the aims and goals of the school.However the plots are structured, they serve the romanticideas explicitly stated, either visually or verbally, throughoutthe narrative. The confrontations between students and teachers,students and students, teachers and teachers, and parents andstudents thus are dramatized. Among the many romantic ideasdepicted are the notion of seizing the moment in the personal questfor intense life experiences, the struggle for identity throughself-expression, the transformation into the spirit of a god in apagan, Dionysian-like frenzy, and notion of liberating oneself fromthe bonds of confinement from repressive societal rules.ConclusionsConflicting educational ideologies and issues are takenseriously when media, like film, can help the viewer understand thedifficulties facing public education in relationship to today'ssocial and economic problems. Films like Teachers and Stand and Deliver strongly illuminate the political forces at play in publicschools undermining students and teachers alike. The films succeedbecause they are able to make a cogent statement about students'concerns: that the first thing one has to do is to treat them ashuman beings. Only then can the process of learning take place. In109Sylvia some sense of personal worth is achieved by the teacherworking with the Maori children but her work is defeated by schooladministrators. In Teachers and Stand and Deliver, we see thecommitment of dedicated teachers responding to the needs of theirstudents. Here, the art of teaching comes into focus as being aspirit of giving and caring about the growth and development ofthose students.Though the number of inspirational narrative films concerningteacher/student relationships is small, they are indicative of agrowing public concern over the debate between progressives andfundamentalists about the role played by our public schools. Bydramatizing the educational malaise and disillusionment over publiceducation, new questions arise as to what new agencies andinstitutions will take over the educational responsibilities.Viewing the ideological conflicts now may help awaken the public toa critical mindedness over what human values are vital to acurriculum in a changing post-industrial society.In the films reviewed in this study, the teacher is aliberator. Through knowledge, and the sharing of trust andfriendship with the student, the teacher helps to lead the studenttowards personal goals and frees the student's imagination. Thecombination of trust and responsibility allows the student to findrewarding experiences that contribute to personal achievement andself-worth. Positive attitudes towards self, the teacher andothers encourage the spirit of learning.110Repeatedly, in each film, the students are given the power todecide and choose their own interests and follow their own desiresand needs in order to gain mastery over life's experiences. Thestudents are encouraged to experiment, take risks without fear ofreprisals, to act out their fears and desires, and learn to debatethe issues, leading to peak experiences of mystery, wonder and joyas in The Dead Poets Society. The release from the bondage andtyranny of the system and the formalism imposed by the schoolsystem are overcome. From these efforts, the teacher guides thestudent towards a gathering of self-control and independence whichmark the maturing student.Two important statements hover in the background of Teachers:one is "Knowledge is power", the other "Know thyself". Once astudent has understood that power is generated through variousforms of knowledge, from the spiritual to cognitive dimensions,then the social nature of learning comes to the fore, raisingethical issues on how this knowledge will be put to use.The power of knowledge enters into the world of politics.Knowing that responsibility and trust are placed by the teacher inthe student can only assist and help guide the student in thepositive uses of this knowledge and power as an adult.Further, the promotion of a positive attitude towards othersis demonstrated by the teachers in these narratives. In apluralistic democracy operating within a post-industrial society,knowing and understanding the role they will play as an adult in111social and political decision-making becomes one of the major goalsof public education.Further commentary on the potential for educational discourse based upon the six film narratives in this study What is the effect on a potential teacher who sees thesefictional narratives of teachers going against the establishment?These films deal with the educational rights of students. They aregrounded in the romantic-humanist orientation as:- the right of access to an appropriate education.- the right to have a point-of-view acknowledgedand to be respected for one's own opinions.- the right to challenge and differ from the majorityviewpoint and not be forced to yield and conform.- the right to pursue self-interests.- the right to be evaluated by oneself in relationship tothe needs and demands of a democratic society.All these rights convey a sense of personal worth and esteem thatis defeated when the educational system has to use outside agencies- other teachers, other parents and other institutions to conferapproval on student achievements.The characters and their struggles within the fictional worldof cinema in these films illustrate that, as a beginning teacher,if you are a caring and trusting person and make the most of thetools you possess as a teacher, you can win the day and educate the112child even though the system and all its problems fight againstyou. The essential question in all these films is: Can you makea difference in the education of a student as a school teacher?The answer in each of these films is yes, yes, you can and do makea difference because of your basic humanity and trust in thestudent. Teachers do make a difference and can in some ways effectchange.In Why Shoot the Teacher?, Max Brown finds out that he canchallenge the system and its administrators to bring about equalaccess to relevant material that would make a difference.Sylvia, although dismayed and thwarted by the administrators,has proof that her educational theories were successful and thather system could make a difference for those children.Keating, at the end of Dead Poets Society, knows that heeffected change when the students decided to challenge the systemand that his sacrifice was not made in vain.Alex Jurel, in Teachers, realizes that as a responsive teacherhe can make a difference in that school for many of the studentswho will return to his class.In Stand and Deliver, the statistical record of studentachievement at Garfield High proves that, regardless of race orclass, students can rise above their station that through the careand trust of a teacher.IF... is the exception. The system becomes so abusive thatonly recourse for the three students is a dream-like insurrection,113a result of traditional teaching strategies gone astray.Such is the message in these films. All these dramas are life-affirming. For prospective teachers, the arguments may excite somestudents because the Jurels and the Keatings become examples ofteachers who do make a difference, who do respect and respond tothe needs and the desires of the students, inspiring a desire forreflexive and thoughtful lives in a democracy.In that way, these films are a form of persuasion designed topromote certain warm emotional responses to the efforts of theteacher; we want to see somebody win and overcome all obstaclesthat deny life-building experiences.In making a correlation between the theme of Romanticism inthe teaching profession and the presentation of this idea visually- its aesthetic - we find that each director depicts the school asa place of entrapment, not only through its physical but also itspsychological presence. It is depicted as a closed world within agiven set of fixed ideological beliefs. In each film, the directorillustrates visually how the teacher moves the class and studentsoutside the school and its enclosing classroom setting. The roleof the teacher is thus shown as liberating the student from thecontrolling influence of the school. In addition, the finalresolution to many of the films happens to occur outside the schoolbecause inside the teacher feels restrained. He or she isrestricted by the norms and rituals controling the school itself.In Sylvia, a change of instruction occurs when the students114are with given the opportunity to experience the world outside theclassroom, or to make pictures of the outside world inside theclassroom. The drawings mentally allow the student to escape theconfines of the room and enter the outside world of imagination.In addition, there is the opportunity for students to see andexperience the world with a fresh vision of possibilities.In Teachers the escape from school and its confiningclassrooms and rules is through a student's effort to break therules and set off the fire alarms. Outside the school, Alex Jurel,comes to understand his role as a teacher and the school itself asa tool for instruction, not as a place for confinement but as asocial construct to help educate students with his guidance.In Dead Poets Society, the first thing the new English teacherdoes is to vacate the classroom and take the students to theentrance lobby. Here. this new generation of students come face toface with a display containing the photographs of former students.In contrasting the living with the dead, Keating urges his studentsto contemplate their own futures. The director's skillful editinghelps the viewer visualize each student contemplate his romanticyearnings for a place outside the school. In this way, thethematic concerns of the film are presented visually supported bythe lesson to "seize the day" and live life fully. With thislesson, the major enigma or question is posed indirectly by theteacher. What will happen if we break the rules and traditions?What then? The film's denouement answers this question.115In summary, each film visualizes the conflict between theteacher as a romantic rebel and the school administratorsmetaphorically as a battle of "nature" with "tradition". The imagesof high schools, schoolrooms and the dormitories, especially inIF..., are all seen as repressive and restrictive, similar to aprison. The image of a teacher is directly related to the placeswhere he or she works with students. In each film, the teacherbecomes identified as a romantic rebel when he or she is visuallyshown taking the students physically and psychologically outsidethe confines of the school and its restrictions on human behavior.Learning, in a sense, becomes an active engagement of each studentwith the real world where the student's self-awareness rules.116REFERENCESApple, M, W. (1990). Ideology and curriculum. New York:Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc.Ashton-Warner, S. (1963). Teacher. (Reprint 1986) Touchstonebook New York: Simon & Schuster.Bettelheim, B. (1977). The uses of enchantment. New York:Random House.Caltri, C. (1958). Strike heaven on the face. New York: CrownPublishers.Charles, D.C. (1950). The stereotype of the teacher in Americanliterature. Educational Forum. 14,(March 1950) 299-305.Counts, G.S. (1925). The social status of occupations: A problemin vocational guidance. School Review, 33, 16-27.Cowley, M. (1976). Exile's return: A literary odyssey of the 1920s. New York: Penguin Books.Cremin, L. A. (1988). American education: The metropolitan experience, 1876-1980. New York: Harper & Row.Crume, A.D.T. (1988). Images of teachers in novels and film forthe adolescent (Doctoral dissertation, University ofFlorida, 1988). Dissertation Abstracts International.Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: Macmillan.Doyle, D.P. (1985). The Storm before the Lull: The Future ofPrivate Schooling in America. In. J.H. Bunzel (Ed.),Challenge to American schools: Part Six (pp. 147-165). NewYork: Oxford University Press.Efland, A.D. (1990). The history of art education. New York:Teachers College, Columbia University.Enger, M.S. (1974). The contemporary image of the teacher(Doctoral dissertation. Arizona State University, 1974).Dissertation Abstracts International, 35, 1424A.Ezor, E.L. (1970). The image of the teacher in the Americanacademic novel, 1900-1960 (Doctoral dissertation, New YorkUniversity, 1969). Dissertation Abstracts International, 31,1271A.Foff, A.R.,(1971). Personal correspondence. March 30.117Forster, E.M. (1927). Aspects of the novel. New York: Harcourt,Brace & World.Fraser, F. (Producer), & Narizzano, S. (Director). (1977). Why shoot the teacher? {Film). Edmonton, Alberta: Pan Canadian.Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power and liberation. New York: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc.Goodson, I.F. (1983). School sublects and curriculum change.Kent, Great Britain: Croom Helm Ltd.Graham, A. (1981). Lindsay Anderson. (Ph.D. thesis, Universityof Florida). Boston: Twayne Publishers.Groff, P.J. (1962). The social status of teachers. Journal ofEducational Sociology, 36, 24.Gurko, L. (1953). Heroes, highbrows, and the popular mind.Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press.Haft, S. (Producer), & Weir, P. (Director). (1989). Dead poets society {Film). Los Angeles, CA: Touchstone.Hunter, E. (1954). The blackboard jungle. New York: Simon &Schuster.Jarvie, I.C. (1970). Towards a sociology of the cinema. London:Routledge & Kegan Paul.Johnson, P. (1983). Modern times: The world from the twenties to the eighties. New York: Harpers & Row.Kaufman, B. (1964). Up the down staircase. Englewood Cliffs,New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Kozol, J. (1985), Illiterate America. New York: Anchor PressDoubleday & Company, Inc.Kracauer, S. (1960). Theory of film: The redemption of physical reality. New York: Oxford University Press.Lever, K., (1961). The novel and the reader. London: Methuen.Maschler, T. (1957). Get Out and Push. In. T. Maschler (Ed.),Declaration (pp.137-160). New York: Kennikat Press.McCulloch, G. (1987). Curriculum history in England and NewZealand. In I. Goodson (Ed.)., International perspectives in curriculum history (pp. 297-318). London: Croom Helm.118McLaren, P. L.,(1989). On ideology and education: Criticalpedagogy and the cultural politics of resistance. In.H. A. Giroux, & P. L. McLaren (Eds.), Critical pedogogy, the state and cultural struggle. Albany, New York: StateUniversity of New York Press.Medwin, M. and Anderson, L. (Producers), & Anderson, L.(Director). (1968). IF... (Film). London, ENG: Paramount.Metalious, G. (1960). The tight white collar. New York: JulianMesser.Morgan, M. F. (1952). Teacher lady. New York: Doubleday & Co.Musca, T. (Producer), & Menendez, R. (Director). (1988). Standand deliver (Film). Los Angeles, CA: Warner Bros.New Zealand Council for Education Research., (1962). Researchneeded in the education of Maori children. Bulletin #9. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Education Research.New Zealand Department of Education. (1977). Art in Schools: The New Zealand experience. INSEA., 23rd Art curriculumproject. Auckland: Department of Education.Oster, J.E. (1972). The image of the teacher in Canadian prairiefiction 1921-1971 (Doctoral dissertation, University ofAlberta 1972). Canadian theses on microfilm, 13508.Province of Saskatchewan. (1937). Annual report. The Departmentof Education authorized by the Minister of Education.Regina: Thos. H. McConica; King's Printer.Reynolds, D. and Firth, M. (Producers), & Firth, M. (Director).,Sylvia (Film). Auckland, N.Z.: MGM/United Artists.Russo, A. (Producer), & Hiller, A. (Director). (1984). Teachers (Film). Culver City, CA: United Artists.Scott, V. (1948). The hickory stick. New York: Swallow Press andWilliam Morrow & Co.Shipman, M. (1976). Curriculum for Inequality. In. R. Hooper(Ed.), The curriculum context: Design and development.Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.Siegel, B. (1963). The principal. New York: Harcourt, Brace.119Simpson, L.J. (1929). Treadmill. New York: MacMillan Co.Sorlin, P. (1980). The film in history : Restaging the past.Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble.Stuart, J. (1967). Mr. Gallion's school. New York: McGraw Hill.Tanner, D. and Tanner, L.N. (1980). Curriculum development: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.Tigue, E.E. (1959). Betrayal. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.Tomkins, G.S. (1986). A common countenance: Stability and change in the Canadian curriculum. Scarborough, Ontario:Prentice-Hall Canada.Wood, P. (1937). The presence of Everett Marsh. Indianapolis:Bobbs Merrill.Zellhofer, G.F. (1980). The image of the public high schoolteacher in the american novel 1920-1970. (Doctoraldissertation, Loyola University of Chicago 1980).Dissertation Abstracts International, 41, 5815A.

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0086220/manifest

Comment

Related Items