At no time in the course of my education did I meet anyone like Mr. Keating, the character played by Robin Williams in Peter Weir’s beautiful film – to my regret, I should add.
All of my high school teachers merely worked to get paid, not out of any love for the profession. I can’t think of anyone who stood out somehow, I have forgotten all of them. And it was the best time to instill in us a love for poetry, an understanding of the arts, the sciences and history, not to mention a sense of complicity among friends.
Had they taught using innovative methods, the subjects we took would have been easy to assimilate, not abhorrent. The man who taught our class mathematics was one of those hopeless cases: he would come to the classroom and quickly gloss over the complex exercises. Then, it was everyone to themselves. He never stopped to consider there were students who found the subject much harder than others.
It was a total lack of connection with us, a kind of indifference that blinded him to the peculiarities of each student. These teachers dare not come up with programs that are more efficient than those given to them, to break the mold in order to benefit the students.
Today, I see these same rigid programs applied to teaching. I saw the results in my own son, who has just finished high school and can barely remember a single class he was happy in or any teacher he’s admired.
Sharing knowledge and experiences ought to be the guiding principle of education, what truly matters in life, particularly during the learning phase one goes through at adolescence, when the world is a challenge to us, a door that opens to curiosity.
The teacher in Dead Poets Society isn’t afraid to express his emotions. He makes us see the first difficulties young people experience when they run into the established rules, at an institution like that of education. The far from orthodox way he awakens an interest in learning in these students is what captures the attention of the spectator, who becomes fully involved in the events of the film. Robin Williams is the mediator and his passion makes his character timeless.
Films like these should be watched by young people in school and educators in general.
Oh Captain, my Captain, how dearly we need teachers like Mr. Keating, a loyal friend who helps us remain true to ourselves.