Cultural, conventional and philosophical beliefs on education were introduced to America by the European settlers. The educational system of the United States is based on the European or Western belief system. Although the local population of Native Americans occupied the North American continent, they did not have much influence on the development of formal education performance in America. The Europeans were the main settlers in the world and as a result, education in colonial America assumed the English model. The people who belonged to lower classes received negligible education with the high-class people in society practicing their education beyond the learning fundamentals. Religion played a major role in development of the educational system in the United States. This is because most of the missionaries believed that education was necessary for it enabled people read and understand the Bible. Teachers had class in the society for they were more educated than most of the population. They were meant to be of high moral character under severe supervision by the rest of the society (Russel, 1940). This is because they had to be good role models to their students. The American educational system values, beliefs and philosophy are clearly illustrated in the movie, “Dead Poets Society” and the essay, “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose.
The movie, “Dead Poets Society” talks about an English teacher who inspires his students to change their lives of conventionality through his poetry and literature teachings. “Dead Poet’s Society” is a representation of an English teacher who intriguingly inspires his students. Mr. Keating moves his students in developing a passion for poetry. As much as he tries his best in inspiring his students to love poetry, he exceeds the limits that a person in authority and respect should not overlook. In his teachings, he urges his students to not only approach learning through configuration and memorization, but also to move to a deeper perception in understanding life and literature. Mr. Keating’s motivations are admirable and he is demonstrated as the only person who can lead his students to a greater understanding of both literature and life.
In the movie, it is illustrated that Keating wants his students to emulate him. This is evident from the movie where he tells them not to follow authority blindly. Through his urge to the students to follow him, one of his students ended up committing suicide. This was after his ideas collided with a student’s real life, Neil Harrison. In the film, Mr. Keating represents two sides of the role of an inspirational teacher (New York Magazine, 1989). In the movie, his ability to move his students to experience other than studying literature deserves the highest praise. In spite of his inspirational influence, his exploitation, however cataleptic, of his student’s desire for fascinating leadership and change raises questions on how far a teacher should go beyond the reputable guidelines and structures in their endeavors to motivate and instigate students.
The essay, “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose is about a droning teacher who does nothing for his student’s education. The disenchanted teacher never takes the responsibility to motivate his students. Teachers make silent assurances to their students by being physically present that they would do anything possible to teach them and understand their lesson. It is from Mike Rose’s essay that people learn that the Vocational Track consists of the uncontrollable and unenthusiastic students (Rose, 2010). The students are given assignments with the teacher’s expectations that they should understand whatever they are taught. Students from this school do not work hard for better grades for they have teachers who do not take part in motivating them.
From their initial poor performances, to their lack of understanding the lesson, their teachers label them as poor students. Instead of providing the students with extra assistance, the teachers contribute so much to the student’s aggravation by becoming disheartened. Therefore, the students end-up being ignorant. This is because the teachers have implanted the notion that they are dumb. From the essay, Ken Harvey admits that he just wants to be an average student. He believes that he is a below average student. This is because he has been told several times by his teachers that he is dumb and he believes that he cannot do better than that. The only thing he thinks he can do is to put some more effort in his work to move from a below average student to an average student. Despite the fact that students are responsible for their own education and it is their responsibility to work hard in the completion of their assignments, it is also the role of a teacher to ensure that students understand what they are taught. The teachers have to consider the age of the students and give the students information they can clearly understand.
The values beliefs and philosophy of teaching in the movie, “Dead Poets Society” are illustrated by the English Professor John Keating who demonstrates inspiration to students by motivating them to seek knowledge through understanding and self discovery, so that they can be useful people in the society in future. This is not the case in the essay, “I just wanna be an average”. The teachers do not take part in motivating students. They also do not play their role to ensure that students understand whatever they are taught. They instead leave to the students the largest part of the work where they have to put extra efforts in understanding the course. Inspiring students is essential for it accelerates the student’s potential by stirring a change in approach to enable self-reflection that in turn alters divergence to opportunities for growth.
Professor Keating’s hard work in inspiring his student’s performance is illustrated in the movie through Todd. Todd is introverted and apprehensive. Todd works hard in school so that he can fulfill his parent’s desires. It is in the movie that Todd is malformed from being timid to a more confident student through his teacher’s inspiration. Dr. Keating accomplished his mission by enhancing Todd’s confidence thus enabling him to express himself in the presence of many people. Initially, Todd was not able to recite a poem to his friends at the Dead Poem Society, an indication on how timid he was. In the movie, it is illustrated how appreciative Todd is for the inspiration he got from his teacher, Professor Keating. It is illustrated in the movie how Keatings motivates and inspires his students not only to succeed academically, but he also plays a major role in changing his student’s ways of life.
On contrary, in the essay, “I Just Wanna be an average”, the students are not motivated or inspired in any way. This is because the teachers make the students believe that there is no way they can get better grades. Whenever a student performs poorly, the teachers do not put extra efforts in encouraging their students to improve on their grades. They instead discourage them by calling them dumb. This is depicted in the essay by Ken Harvey who says that he just wants to be an average student. This shows that he believes that there is no way he can improve on his performance no matter how much he tries.
The ways in which teachers can motivate and mentor their students are well shown in the movie, “Dead Poets society”. The students in Mr. Keating’s class are not only surprised by his new approach, but they are also uncomfortable. Mr. Keating believes that literature brings exquisiteness and romance that challenges his students to experience poetry from a personal perspective rather than transferring value to it, depending on other people’s evaluation. Through this, he motivates his student by making it clear that poetry and literature is not all about class work but it also entails an individual’s real life experiences. He acts as a mentor to his students by challenging them to view poetry from his perspective. It is through his inspirational teachings that the students in his class perfect their class work by coming up with a Dead Poets Society Club where they recited poems to each other. In addition, the students not only improved on their class work, they also improved on their personal attributes.
Teachers play a major role in assisting their students grow personally and intellectually. This is illustrated in the essay “I wanna be average” by Mike Rose where he gives an analysis of today’s quality of education. In his essay, he brings out the poor quality education extended to students by teachers who are not willing to assist their students in their course work. In his analysis, Mike Rose illustrates that in the present American education system, teachers are not dedicated in their work. In his essay, most of the students are left to do most of the assignments so that they can understand the main part of their lessons (Flachmann, 2004). Teachers look forward into gauging students academic performances and whenever there students failed in their assignments, they did not take their time in assisting the students in areas that they went wrong. They instead rush into conclusions where they claim that the students performed poorly, simply because they are dumb.
Through this, the students are reluctant and they do not work hard in improving on their performances for they assume that they are poor. This ends up being a liability to the society for students will go on attending formal classes without attaining a creditable skill or knowledge that they could use in future. The students attending such schools do not grow both personally and intellectually. In his essay, Mike Rose portrays to his readers that education is not all about memorizing the theories that are taught in class but rather, it entails the understanding or knowledge that a society generates from students. A reader gets information on the role played by a teacher in the growth and development of students from Mike Roses essay. This can be achieved by ensuring that teachers assist their students in their class work.
On contrary to Mike Roses essay where teachers did not assist the student to grow personally and intellectually, in the movie, “Dead Poets Society”, Keating plays his role as a teacher in helping his students grow both personally and intellectually. He teaches his students how to be independent. This is illustrated in the movie where he orders his students to walk individually in the field symbolizing individualism. He teaches his students to do whatever they believed in and maintain their individuality no matter what people in the society say. Keating not only teaches his students on how to be independent, but he also educates them on how to live their own lives. This is depicted in the movie where Neil seeks advice from Keating about his father who did not support him in pursuing his acting career. His father wanted his son to live his life according to his expectations, which was not Keating’s idea.
From the movie, “Dead Poets Society” and Mike Rose’s essay, it is evident that teachers can either have positive or negative impact on their student’s lives. In the movie, Keating influences his students positively by motivating them to have a passion for literature. In so doing, he encourages his students to not only view poetry from the class work perspective but also apply it in their personal life experiences (New York Magazine, 1989). This is different from the role played by teachers in Mike Rose’s essay where the teachers played a major part in their student’s poor performance. They encouraged their students to concentrate so much on coursework for they did not encourage the students to apply whatever they learnt in school in their real life. This as a result, leads to production of future citizens who may not be of any use to the society in spite of completing their formal education.
Students who are taught by the teachers face some difficulties before the completion of their course work. From the discussion above, in the movie “Dead Poets Society”, Keating is illustrated as an excellent teacher. Keating adopts a teaching method where he gives his students liberty for self-expression. It is for the students’ benefit to have such a teacher but they may be faced with some disadvantages. This is illustrated in the movie where Neil commits suicide after his parents ordered him to pursue a career in medicine. Neil was not for the idea for he had been inspired by his teacher and mentor Keating where he developed a passion for poetry and literature. Since Keating had encouraged his students to make their decisions individually, Neil did not find the reason as to why his parents could stop him from living his dream. All parents want their children to be successful in life and it is the reason as to why Neil’s father wants him to pursue a career in medicine. If it were not for Keating’s inspirations, the class would not have lost one of its brilliant students. It is therefore a disadvantage to the class and the entire school to have a teacher like Keating.
In addition, having teachers like those in Mike Rose’s essay is far much worse than having Keating as a teacher. From Mike Rose’s essay, it can be said that the students were not privileged to have quality education. The teachers did not take their responsibility fully by making sure that their students got the clear concept of their course work. They gave their students a lot of work to research on so that they could get detailed information on different topics of their class work. As a result, the student’s performance was poor and the teachers did nothing to improve their student’s grades (Lambert, 1994). They went further and intimidated the students who performed poorly by calling them dumb. They did not take any part in motivating their students and instead made them believe that they could not improve on their performances. The students from such classes end up being worthless even after winding up their formal education. Such students are only taught on the memorization of their course work where the teachers do not teach them on the application of these concepts in real life experiences.
In conclusion, the movie, “Dead Poets Society” and the essay “I wanna be average” by Mike Rose are very different. This is because the movie talks about the positive impact that a teacher can have in the personal lives of his students whereas the essay is on the negative effect that teachers can have on their students by not playing their role. In the movie, Keating is depicted as a good teacher who motivates his students and at the same time, he acts as a role model to his students. After joining his school, his students were not comfortable with his approach in teaching but later they came to like it. He did not encourage his students to concentrate on their course work but he encouraged them to practice their course work in real life. Through his motivational skills, many students changed their perception on Poetry and Literature with most of them developing a passion in this field of study. This is different from Mike Rose’s essay where the teachers did not motivate their students and instead demoralized them. As a result, the students did not work hard in their course work for they believed that they were poor performers.
Flachmann, Kim. Mosaics, Focusing on Essays. Bakersfield, CA: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.
Lambert, Judith. Reading and Writing Essays. Manchester, NH: Harper Collins College Publishers, 1994. Print.
New York Magazine. Dead Poets Society. New York, NY: New York Publishers, 1989. Print.
Rose, Mike. I Just Wanna Be Average. Web. 2010. Retrieved from
Russell, John &Judd, Charles. The American Educational System: An Introduction to Education. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1940. Print.