Philosophical view on "Dead Poet Society"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
My teacher point of view on the movie, "Dead Poet Society"

Submitted: January 02, 2015

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Submitted: January 02, 2015

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Essay on “Dead Poets Society” By Liesel Fortuin 12 June 2014 Innovative teachers close the gap between the traditional images of teachers so he or she can determine what is best for each student. This is the teacher John Keating strives to be and I as a prospective teacher, strongly support his notions. In the movie, “Dead Poets Society”, the new English teacher at Welton Academy in Vermont, John Keating adopts ideas and a spirit that deviate sharply from the established norms and teaching practices which is built on four pillars being: Tradition, Honour, Discipline and Excellence. In Keating’s very first lesson he teaches his class one of his favourite sayings, “Carpe Diem-seize the day, lads, make your lives extraordinary”. This is taken from a poem written in the Odes in 23 BC by the Latin poet Horace. This encourages them that the future is unseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make the future better. In my opinion this quote can have negative and positive outcomes in the lives of these students. It can be used to justify reckless behaviour, such as strengthening the idea of “you only live once” or on a positively in the sense of encouraging them to put a lot of effort in today to get good results tomorrow. John Keating is very innovative and does not conform to the ethos of his school. Firstly he strays from tradition by his attire. He uses modern methods such as taking them outside of the class and when they are inside learning takes place quite informally with a gathering around his table or standing on the desks. He shows disapproval for other teaching materials and command students to tear out the introductory pages from their poetry textbooks. His way of teaching goes completely against the ethos of the schools and rather depicts his way of viewing life. He believes becoming a doctor, lawyer or banker is not sustainable to life but rather poetry, love, romance and beauty. Keating imposes this philosophy upon his students and it invites great results. The students evidently enjoy being in his class and also discover their true passion and talent. His student Neil Perry discovers an undying love for drama and acting through Keating’s teaching of literature and philosophy of life. This gives me the idea that Keating feels poetry is a passion and not aimed at academic excellence. I feel that it is crucial to awaken students to all the facets of poetry and giving them the opportunity to be different and allowing them to express themselves, but it is equally important for a teacher to live up to the ethos of the school. This does not necessarily mean conforming to the teaching methods of others but finding a way to incorporate ones teaching methods to the disciplines of the school. I am a firm believer that innovative teaching enhances learning. Thus, I agree with the teaching methods Keating adopts. I do feel on the other hand that Keating should not have made the students believe that other professions are not good enough for sustainability, but should also have encouraged other professions. The principals and other staff members obviously felt that Keating did not have student’s desires at heart and kept him responsible for the suicide of Neil Perry, which was not the case. Keating was like a father to Neill and felt proud of his achievements. Neill felt encouraged by his English teacher and always opened up to him. Keating only wanted Neill to chase his dream and be who he wants to be. This shows me that Keating’s teaching methods stretched far beyond the classroom. His unconventional way of thinking and doing made students feel comfortable to talk to him about anything, in this case domestic issues and personal battles. Keating’s methods engage learners actively in the learning process and this is crucial. His variety of methods stimulates their thinking and reasoning. They become creative and critical thinkers, not only with regards to poetry but to life in its broader sense. However, others would argue and say that Keating never did any lesson preparation, practically done no formal assessments and hardly bother with the syllabus and this would make him a bad teacher. Despite all of this, Keating still represents the teacher we all as prospective teachers should strive to be. We should, like him, have a passion for our subject speciality. Not only did he show great passion to the field he also had good content knowledge. In conclusion, John Keating is a great teacher! He is different, inspiring and teaches us that “when all think alike, then no one is thinking”.


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