Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Myth of the Great Teacher.

Though it's a little silly to remonstrate Hollywood for providing a misleading picture of the real world, this op-ed worries that most Americans buy into the movie version of how to fix American public schools:
The great misconception of these films is not that actual schools are more chaotic and decrepit — many schools in poor neighborhoods are clean and orderly yet still don’t have enough teachers or money for supplies. No, the most dangerous message such films promote is that what schools really need are heroes. This is the Myth of the Great Teacher.
The point seems to be that while it's correct to want talented, skilled teachers in our classrooms, it's off-base to think that that's the whole answer, or that if they only just put a little more of themselves into their work our nation's education problem would be solved.


At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True...and yet, I think this particular myth has been around for much longer than any public awareness that American schools needed to be fixed...even longer than there has been a real public education system in America. The character of the Great Teacher as life-changing, school-transforming entity is certainly a fixture in American literature and cinema; his or her counterpart, the Incompetent Martinet, is equally prominent. Seems to me that this genre of movie (Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, etc.) has simply taken that character and grafted him/her onto a current societal concern. That's certainly misleading, but even if there weren't such a full-blown educational crisis in the U.S., I still think the Myth of the Great Teacher would flourish.


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