Archives For teaching

It is that time of year when many of us send our children back to school. It brings back great memories to me about my education. I reminds me of what I love about the learning process and the teachers who made it all worthwhile.

I was a decent student but I always needed someone to push me to become better in my studies as well as in life. I would not have made it through my education without the help of my mother who is a teacher by trade or by a handful of great teachers who inspired me along the way. Unfortunately, teachers are often some of the most hard-working, unappreciated and underpaid people in our society, so I tip my hat to them. They should be treated well because they have the power to motivate students to find greatness. This is my attempt to honor them.

Movies can be a helpful way to learn and be inspired, especially for a teacher. Here are some of my favorite inspirational movies about teaching in no particular order.

1. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Seeing the potential in every student, no matter how distant he or she may be, is a key message of the film. In the movie, Mr. Keating played by Robin Williams does this uniquely with his students to help them understand that they are passionate, young men ready to “seize the day.”

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2. Renaissance Man (1994)

This is a movie that flew under the radar in the 1990s. It follows Danny DeVito, who is simply trying to find a job. He lands one helping out soldiers at a military base who need basic life skills, especially in the English language. He is teaching adults who should have learned many simple English reading and writing skills earlier in life and revealed in the process why it is important. My grandmother tutored English to adults and young students until the day she died at 93. This movie reminds me that there are always people who need a good teacher, no matter how young, old, rich or poor.

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3. Finding Forrester (2000)

A teacher can be a mentor in life as well. In this case, famous recluse author William Forrester spends time with a young student from a rough part of town teaching him not just about writing but about how to handle himself in life despite incredible odds. Often times, the student is also teaching the teacher like in Finding Forrester.

“You write your first draft with your heart. You re-write with your head.”

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4. Stand and Deliver (1988)

Every student is worth the investment to find their potential. Jamie, the teacher, does the unthinkable by teaching calculus to an inner-city Los Angeles school. Based on a true story, Jamie brought humor and fun into the classroom to teach a very complicated subject.

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5. School of Rock (2003)

This movie is a reminder that music education is essential to a broader renaissance education. When you bring Jack Black in to teach, it is even better. School of Rock also serves as a reminder that in order to be a great teacher, you must absolutely love the subject you teach.

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Other great movies about teaching worth watching:

Lean on Me, Good Will Hunting. Pay it Forward, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Yoda-Luke), Precious, Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Karate Kid, Summer School, Dangerous Minds, and Half Nelson

 

What is your favorite movie about teaching?

 

I was impressed with the 15 minute story on 60 Minutes this week about “Redshirt Students”. I became aware of this issue since having kids and if you do not know much about it, you can read a great article in Huffington Post. To summarize the issue, many parents are holding back their kids to start Kindergarten a year later. Why? The idea is so their kids will be older and have an edge on other students. They could be physically bigger to be more developed athletes (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on Canadian Hockey players). They could be more advanced in the classroom. They could eventually be the first to drive at 16 to have a social edge. They could also be better leaders just for the fact of being older. It seems to be an issue affecting boys more than girls but nevertheless it is happening to both. I envision a Tiger Mom’s saliva dripping from its mouth at the thought of this.

There are plenty of negatives to this like being bored in the classroom, have behavioral issues, trouble relating to the younger students, etc. Yes, it is confusing for the kids.

But this is not about the kids. 

Photo Credit: Premus

Brooke and I have two wonderful, unique, and imperfect girls. Our oldest daughter will be starting a Pre-K class next year so this issue hits home as we observe what other parents do for their kids. Brooke and I could technically hold back our daughter a year from Kindergarten and start her at 6 1/2.  Yes, 6 1/2, which is crazy to us. Despite being the youngest in her class, so far she has every ability to keep up with the older kids. There are many instances of younger kids need to be held back, which is understandable and shows how each situation is unique.

The idea of redshirting students reminds me of my experience dealing with some of my friends’ parents at a young age. When I was even eight years old, I knew that these parents were pushing my friends at every sport. They verbally abused them, practically broke out a whip to keep them practicing, rarely praised them, etc. It was disgusting and if they were smart enough to start their kids earlier in school, they would have (maybe they did). But most of my friends who were pushed around so hard by their parents were stressed, unhappy, and eventually ended up in serious therapy (or should have). I am thankful for my parents were not pushy but encouraging in that process and ultimately helped me to be successful in the things I was most passionate about in those years.

Why do parents do this?

There are three reasons:

  1. Envy: They see other parents’  kids “succeeding” early in life. They see it as necessary to make sure their kids do the same or better. It is pure envy.
  2. Fear: God forbid their kids would not be the best in something or not succeed. They feel the need to “protect” their kids because they fear failure.
  3. Pride: Even parents want to feel significant. Perhaps it is through their child’s success? Perhaps they are trying to make up for some issue in their own life and forcing it on their own kids? But pride is at the root of all of this.
All of this points to a redshirt life. We all are susceptible to this lie.

The redshirt life is about safety, control, and lack of adventure.

Brooke and I have discovered as parents how easy it can be to be caught in this trap. The idea of redshirting our kids is a reminder that Brooke and I need to give our kids up to God. We want to be great stewards with the gifts God has given us, especially our kids. But ultimately this all is a reminder that we need to give up control. God reminded me this week through 2 Timothy 1:7 (King James),

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

There will be many more times we will encounter issues like this. May we all be in prayer for our kids and to also ask God to reveal our own hearts in the process. The verse above is about trusting God, thinking with the good mind he gave us and to always act in love for our children.