Tag Archives: Dead Poet’s Society

The Best Films About Teaching

Best Way Story (1961)

An adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, this 1961 movie centres around the tension between two rival groups of teachers, the Trads and the Progs. The arguments and the blockings are all played out through brilliantly choreographed dance scenes and a truly memorable musical numbers.

With music composed by Leonard Bernstein, who can forget the wonderful lyrics from the pen of the great Stephen Sondheim? Every time I watch, I can’t help but sing along to such classics as:

Trad Song

When you’re a Trad,
You’re a Trad all the way
From being postgrad
To retirement day.

Gee, Inspector Spielman

Gee, Inspector Spielman, we’re very upset;
We never had the funding that ev’ry school oughta get.
We ain’t no special measures,
We’re misunderstood.
Deep down inside we’re at least a good!

I Feel Shitty

I feel shitty,
Oh, so shitty,
I feel shitty and gritty and tired,
Ofsted told me
That improvement is required.

Dead Poets Society 2: Special Measures (1991)

In this sequel to 1989’s Dead Poets Society, John Keating, having been fired from the prestigious prep school Welton Academy, has decided to try his hand as a supply teacher. We find him on his first day having been sent to a school that is struggling with poor behaviour.

As he attempts to inspire the pupils to take an interest in poetry, he finds himself facing a variety of obstacles, from getting the pupils to stop ripping up the textbooks to trying to stop them from standing on the tables during lessons.

At first, Keating attempts to use the methods that we saw him use to inspire the pupils at the elite Welton Academy. He tells the pupils at this new school to question authority. They tell him to **** off. He tells them to ‘seize the day’. They take the day off school to play Xbox. He tells them: ‘make your lives extraordinary’. They tell him to **** off again.

Eventually, Keating realises that questioning authority and listening to the trophy cabinet whisper Latin phrases are all well and good if you have already established structure and discipline, and that he needs to work towards building those things before he can inspire the pupils. He realises that this isn’t something that he can do on his own and needs a whole school approach, so he resigns and leaves the school.

As he leaves the school he walks past a classroom, and through the window we see pupils standing on the tables, some making hand gestures and some shouting names at him.

The Breakfast Club (2019 reboot)

An arthouse reboot the original, updated for the modern era. The premise is the same – on a Saturday, five pupils are meant to report for an all-day detention. However, as the pupils’ parents feel that a Saturday detention is inhumane, none of the pupils turn up for the detention. Instead, we follow Assistant Principal Richard Vernon alone in the school all day, going through an existential crisis and questioning his future in teaching.

A largely improvised film, the highlight is obviously Vernon’s melancholic and balletic dance montage to The Smiths’ ‘I Know It’s Over’.

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A Glossary of U.K. Education (Vol. 2)

Volume One of our handy glossary of commonly-used terms in U.K. education was such a success that our publishers have rushed out the second volume. We hope that you find this a useful tool in navigating the debates and discussion around education, both online and in real world situations.

assembly

/əˈsɛmbli/

noun

the action of gathering a group of children together in order to watch a short video of an athlete doing something inspiring to uplifting music.

Bjork, Robert A.

/bjɔːk/, ˈrɒbət ˈ/ 

noun

cognitive psychologist, famous for his work on learning, memory and forgetting, and for his hit single “It’s Oh So Quiet”, which spent 15 weeks in the U.K. singles chart in 1995; he was hoping you’d forgotten about that.

cake

/keɪk/ 

noun

main fuel source of teachers during the latter weeks of a term; as a child, cake is something that someone buys you on your birthday; as a teacher, cake is something that you have to buy for everyone in your department on your own birthday; how did that happen?

Chartered College of Teaching

/ˈtʃɑːtəd ˈkɒlɪdʒ ɒv ˈtiːtʃɪŋ/

noun

see General Teaching Council for England (GTC).

Dead Poet’s Society

/dɛd ˈpəʊɪtz səˈsʌɪɪti/

noun

elaborate teacher recruitment video from the late 1980s; data shows that the two-thirds of teachers who remain in the profession after five years only stay on in the hope that their pupils will one day stand on their desks and declare “O Captain! My Captain!” at them.

detention

/dɪˈtɛnʃ(ə)n/

noun

punishment given out to teachers whereby they have to give up their break time, lunchtime or after school to spend time with someone who has previously been rude to them or otherwise ignored their instructions.

enquiry learning

/ɪnˈkwʌɪri ˈləːnɪŋ/ 

noun

for a clear understanding of the way that enquiry learning works, see entry for inquiry learning.

GCSE results day

/ˈˈsˈɛsˈiː rɪˈzʌltz deɪ

noun

the second most exciting day in the school calendar, after stationery order delivery day.

growth mindset

/ɡrəʊθ ˈmʌɪn(d)sɛt/ 

noun

a powerful incantation used as a magic word; legend has it that, if SLT and the board of governors hold hands in a circle with their eyes closed and chant the words ‘growth mindset’ three times, when they open their eyes the DfE will have made further cuts to their school budget.

inquiry learning

/ɪnˈkwʌɪri ˈləːnɪŋ/ 

noun

for a clear understanding of the way that inquiry learning works, see entry for enquiry learning.

lunchtime duty

/ˈlʌn(t)ʃtʌɪm ˈdjuːti/

noun

(Oops, sorry, I totally forgot to do this one – Ed.)

mastery

/ˈmɑːst(ə)ri/ 

noun

a Rorschach inkblot, often associated with a curriculum, which can be interpreted to mean absolutely anything a person sees in it when they look at it.

mindset

/ˈmʌɪn(d)sɛt/ 

noun

the mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of a situation; according to psychologists, there are three types: fixed and growth (Dweck), and dirty (Freud).

red pen

/rɛd pɛn/

noun

principle weapon of torture, used by teachers who don’t take children’s feelings into account (cf. the marking pen chart below, showing the range colours preferable to use when marking); red pen is also famously mentioned in the old adage of teacher lore that goes, “Red pen at night: normal. Red pen in the morning: I fell asleep doing my marking last night.”

Spectrum of colours preferable to use when marking children’s work, in order to not cause unnecessary anxiety. ‘Sensitive White’ is a popular choice.

retention deficit disorder (RDD)

/rɪˈtɛnʃ(ə)n/

noun

an employment disorder that can be found in the U.K. education sector; it is characterised by a person openly lamenting teacher turnover whilst they are simultaneously creating the conditions that cause teachers to leave their jobs, e.g., “Justine Greening spoke earnestly about the ‘challenges on recruitment and retention, but also on workload’, just before she announced a funding formula that will see 98% of state schools’ funding cut.”

self-assessment

/sɛlf əˈsɛsmənt/

noun

process in which children show that they have had enough of the topic being studied; this is sometimes done by the pupil displaying an emoticon of a smiley face, or through the use of traffic light colours, but is more commonly achieved by the children putting their thumbs up, as pioneered by Scottish pupil James Krankie in the late 1970s (see image below); however, it should be noted that Krankie is still at school some 40 years later, which may be an indication that this method is a flawed way of gauging a pupil’s learning.

James Krankie, eternal schoolboy and pioneer of the thumbs up method of self-assessment