REEL 13

What is your favorite classroom drama?

Posted: September 19, 2009
Sidney Poitier in "To Sir with Love"

Sidney Poitier in "To Sir, with Love"

Like Blackboard Jungle, To Sir, With Love, Up the Down Staircase, and Freedom Riders, Stand and Deliver is an exceptional classroom drama. Tell us: what is your favorite classroom drama?

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  • sue carpenter

    KES ( Brisitsh film) a beautiful, heart breaking and inspiring film-definately worth showing.

  • janet

    To Sir with Love – Sidney Poitier was the epitomisation of Braithwaite – loved the book, loved the film. Please show it one week on Reel 13

  • sigma

    The movie ‘Stand and Deliver’ has various things going for it, but there are at least two problems in its contact with reality:

    First, the student whose parents were running a successful family Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles were basically correct: learning how to run such a restaurant, especially as part of a family business, was a much better career direction than anything at all close to calculus and likely better than anything at all close to a college degree. The teacher’s claim that the student could go to college and come back and show her father how to run the restaurant was nonsense. There is next to nothing in the US educational establishment, not college, not business school, not even cooking school, that would do much to help that family in their business. She was better off learning the family business. Actually, in the US, such a family business is one of the very best career directions.

    Second, the claim of the teacher that it would be better to be designing cars instead of repairing them was basically false. In designing cars in the US, have only about three candidate employers, all in Detroit, with two just out of bankruptcy, and, for such a job, are in competition with people from all over the US and parts of the rest of the world. No doubt since that movie was made a lot of car designers in Detroit lost their jobs and may well have had to start at the bottom in a new career of car repair. For repairing cars, can get a job in nearly any town in the US with population over, say, 5000. With such a job, are in competition only with people in a radius, of say, 50 miles. Do well in that radius and can do well. Have a good chance of starting own repair shop and, then, can’t be fired. Age discrimination is not much of a problem in that industry, but in big companies it is common personnel policy to have technical people move up into management or move out, and even in good times maybe only 1% of the technical hires can move into management. For the California jobs in “aerospace”, those had only one customer, and nearly all those jobs are gone now. Auto repair jobs? Still rock solid. The auto repair business is quite stable whatever happens in Detroit. Generally it is better to be repairing cars than designing them.

    That cars have “fuel injection” is irrelevant to calculus and nearly anything in the US educational system. There are plenty of means in the US auto industry to learn about how to repair new systems. Some knowledge of basic electricity would be helpful, but high school physics should be sufficient for that.

    Generally it is not clear just who has a good career based seriously on calculus. Once I used calculus to save a company now famous around the world, but doing so didn’t do me much good. There are some examples of using calculus, say, in software to assist mechanical engineers, but there may be no more than a few hundred such jobs in all of the US. Otherwise, having a career based on calculus, etc. is a long shot, a risky investment. The investment might pay off, maybe quite well, but the odds are long.

    Yes, I did well in calculus, and advanced calculus, and well beyond, taught calculus in college, used calculus in my career on both military and business problems, did peer-reviewed original research in some math well beyond calculus, and now am starting a business where the core work is far beyond calculus, but, still, calculus hasn’t done much for me, car repair would have been, net, better, and for nearly anyone getting value from calculus is a long shot.

    Yes, being from East Los Angeles and passing AP Calculus might be a way to get into college, and that might be a way to, say, law school, medical school, business school with, say, a CPA, or a degree in finance or some such, and such studies can touch on calculus, but otherwise it’s tough to find anyone making a living where they actually need to know calculus or actually needed to know it in school.

    A larger problem is that our educational system doesn’t know enough about the real world to identify what would he useful to know and develop courses in such material. Mostly the educational system is self-perpetuating and inwardly directed: The high end is to get a position as a professor doing research on academic problems rarely of more than little relevance to anyone alive today. Academics just refuses to address the real world.

    Yes, the best of academics is some of the best we have for research for progress, but only a tiny fraction of the population does such research, and teaching calculus to a million students each year so that maybe a dozen of those students will eventually do such research is silly.

    So, someone who knows how to run a successful Mexican family restaurant or repair a car has knowledge where academics generates essentially no competition. There is some significant creativity and intellectual accomplishment in doing well in such jobs without any relevant formal education at all.

    Net, the movie was seriously misleading about calculus and career preparation.

  • rayban

    “The History Boys” – Alan Bennett adapted his hit English play for the big screen and Nicholas Hytner, who directed it onstage, directed the film version, too – it’s about eight boys, three teachers (schoolmasters) and one headmaster who are making it through the final stages of sixth-form schooling at a boys’ school (Cutler’s Grammar School) in the north of England in the 80′s and, at the very end, moving on out into life and becoming somebody – the actual material is treated in a most unconventional manner and never ever stoops to cliche – in fact, it genuinely borders on “the gutsy” – the homoerotic, even homosexual, atmosphere of such a school is faced bravely, too – Posner, who has fallen in love with Dakin, decides to declare his love and sings to him, in front of the class, “Bewitched, Bothered
    and Bewildered” and Dakin, who develops “a thing” for one of his teachers, Irwin, asks him out on a date – Irwin: “I didn’t know you were that way inclined.” Dakin: “I’m not, but it’s the end of term, I’ve got into Oxford; I thought we might push the boat out.” – then, there’s the deeply committed schoolmaster, Hector, who likes to fondle the boys when offering them a ride home on his motorcylce – none of this is actually offensive, because it seems indigenous to the setting – all of the boys make it through their O Levels and actually qualify to sit for history scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge – the film is a moving, touching, and funny testament to the fierce determination of the human spirit in matters both academic and sexual – all of the original cast members were invited to re-create their roles and each one of them is quite splendid indeed – the movie lives up to its most famous line, “History is just one f—–g thing after another.”

  • Donna

    To Be And To Have – A lovely French film about a teacher and his mixed grade one room school. As a teacher, I now understand that this teacher is a master at his craft. Teaching a very diverse group, he finds the time to answer student questions with another question. This is a documentary, and although at times slow moving, it is worth your time to see the lives of a group of children and their veteran teacher in action.

  • Margaret

    Two favorite classroom films: THE HISTORY BOYS –
    wonderful, touching, hilarious, heartbreaking film. More
    recently, the French film “ENTRE LES MURS” (“The Class,”
    in English), based on the true story of a teacher in a middle
    school in one of the multi-ethnic Paris suburbs.

  • BenInBrooklyn

    The Class – a wonderful French film from last year (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1068646/). Gives you a sense of class, race and society in France.

  • Bonnie

    “Lean on Me”, although I wouldn’t like it if it wasn’t for Morgan Freeman.

  • Linda K

    My favorite classroom film “The Emperor’s Club”. Kevin Kline is the teacher. He was made for this I think he really has a passion for this film. I would love to know how he feels. Forgive my spelling and grammar.

  • Nikki

    My all time favorite ia the 1955 “Blackboard Jungle”, with the 1967 “Up The Down Staircase” as second.