Sunday, October 29, 2006

Corax on Teachers on Film

I attended a wonderful "talk on teaching" by my good friend Corax last week. As Corax is an award-winning teacher, I anticipated his topic, "teachers on film" with great interest. I was not disappointed, and getting out on a cold rainy morning in Indiana was amply rewarded.

He started by noting that students today are "more visual" in their way of processing information. We all laughed when he told of an informal poll of one of his classes, and asked how many hours students devote to video games each week, and one response came back "I try to keep it under 30."

As a classicist, Corax wanted us to look at the rhetorics of teachers on film, especially what he called the direct rhetoric of character to character, as well as the indirect rhetoric of movie director to viewer. Corax thought this latter rhetoric had obvious messages often enough: ain't love grand, education is important, and so forth.

We watched clips from The Mirror has Two Faces, Mona Lisa Smile, and a fave oldie I HAVEN'T seen in AGES...To Sir, with Love. Ah, I can hear Lulu's crooning of To Suhhhhhuhhhh with Laaaoouuuvve.

With Mirror, we discussed the difference in teaching style in the Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges characters; with Mona Lisa Smile, the dramatic difference in the Julia Roberts character's change in her pedagogy; and in To Sir, with Love, how the Sidney Poitier character took over his classroom and gained the respect of his working-class students.

On this final clip, we expressed concern over some of Sir's tactics in doing this. Amazing to hear him call his female students "sluts" as he attempts to mold them! So....1967.

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