Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Teacher

After reading all the blog posts about Freedom Writers, I had no desire to see the movie. That is, until AMC theaters announced that they were letting teachers in for free this week. Not wanting to pass up a bargain, or a free night out with some friends, I went to see it last night. As a movie, it was entertaining. As for anything else, I found it deplorable.

1. Older teachers in the film are portrayed as burnt out bigots who have no desire to teach ghetto kids and who think ghetto kids are worthless and unteachable. (not in my experience a true portrayal)

2. No kid, no matter how good the teacher, will go from being illiterate to a perfect reader and writer in such a short time.

3. No kid who has been turned out of his home by a mother will be allowed to return just because he read Ann Frank.

4. Even if she did succeed with some of the kids, she couldn't have possibly reached them all. It is not realistic to believe that books and writing kept them all out of the streets and prisons and saved them all from gang violence.

Moreover, Ms. G. is a young idealistic young woman who sacrifices her entire life for her students. She works extra jobs to make money to buy them books and take them on weekend trips. Although this was fine for her, it is wrong to expect other teachers to do such things. After all, teaching is a job, like every other job. Teachers have husbands and children and lives outside of the school. This is not 1872 and teachers do not have to sacrifice all for their jobs.

This movie presented teachers as being the only variable in education. A good, caring teacher can move mountains. There is nothing they cannot do. Every child can succeed. Every obstacle can be overcome. Bloomberg and Bush are trying to hold teachers accountable for every failure. If Ms. G. can save everyone, so can every other teacher. It was not fair to present teachers in such a light. AMC gave teachers the tickets to rub in our faces what failures we are because we insist on life outside of school and cannot perform the miracles that were performed in this movie.

Maybe the movie industry should try to make some real movies--show the public what really goes on in a classroom every day. I bet the public would like to see that stuff too.


Nic said...

From what I understand a good many of those "miracles" portrayed in the movie were exaggerated, in any case.

And then there's the fact that she moved her own arse out of the classroom right quick, in any case.

Pissed Off said...

They had to be exagerated. No one is that good. And her husband was not as bad as he was portrayed either.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Nah, the public wouldn't want to see a real movie about teachers and teaching: too messy!

jonathan said...

In other words, if I go, I'll be a pissed off teacher, too?

Thanks for the heads up. Programming just finished, and it's time to go to the movies. A different movie.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with almost your entire post escpecially that of "no one being that good". Most of the teachers at my school would almost give an organ for their kids. And I'm sure most teachers would (sacrifice a alot for their students).

What I do agree with you about is the tremendous burden/idealistic(unrealistic) expectation of teachers to be the answer for all of the ills of our kids and of society. You're on the mark for the administarions' issue of accountability and unrealistic notion that teachers "should" be responsible for everything about our students' successes. Thank you for this point.

Pissed Off said...

I do alot for my students, but I draw the line at weekend jobs and sacrificing my family for them. I would donate a kidney or blood to save a life, but I won't sacrifice my life.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the comments you have made about this movie. Let's not forget that the instructor in the film went on to become a college professor. If she was so good, then why did she not remain in the public school classroom? The only film that I identify with is Lean on Me. Mr. Clark did his job and then they fired him. That to me was realistic. Been there.

Anonymous said...

I distinctly remember when I saw the movie that Erin Gruwell separated from her husband because she was dedicating too much time to her work...hmmnn..lesson to be learned here. Balance life between profession as well as personal and social experiences.