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Teaching and Culture Essay

Cumulative cultural texts give a foreground and a context into what to expect for that particular culture. In fact there is a criteria in which any text may be classed as this. Intergenerational, Intertextual, Multidimensional. In short these words mean that the texts within this accumulation relate to each other, they refer to each other within themselves or insinuate links or they apply to the masses and are regarded of any particular text type. In this essay I will be exploring different Cumulative texts within the boundaries of Teaching.

By first examining the key arguments of Mitchell and Weber (1999)’s prescribed article and what their views are in which these texts can change teacher Identities. Furthermore comparing and contrasting their study with Dead Poets society (1989) and how typical texts can be linked and provide support for identity within the classroom for both teachers and students. Part A Mitchell and Weber (1999) discuss the importance of the role of cumulative cultural texts in the portrayal of “The teacher” in society and explore this impact it can have on self-evaluation and analysis of pedagogies of the “real classroom”.

This is done by focusing on a lead text in Dangerous Minds but complimented through comparing and contrasting to intertextual links within the Teaching movie genre. From this examination we can come to the conclusion that from looking at past texts teachers can have some form of model either a how to or a how not on the kind of pedagogies they will engage with and their sense of self as teachers in the classroom.

Looking at Dangerous Minds, Good Morning Miss Dove, and To Sir with Love, Mitchell and Weber note the ‘popular texts wouldn’t be popular unless they managed to tap into particular desires of many readers [viewers]’ (Mitchell and Weber, (1999), pp. 167). Texts such as these are a window into the profession of teaching and give society a distorted knowledge on what it is to be a teacher. The dramatization of these texts gives a false sense of expertise to the common man/woman.

It leads to an impression that Joe Blow can come up and tell you what it is to be a teacher and how you should go about your classroom. When in fact they are getting a completely skewed view into what the real classroom looks like thus popular culture in the form of the “hero teacher” having a negative effect on the profession. This leads to the ‘unrealistic and potentially harmful expectations by encouraging teacher fantasy at the expense of reality’ (Mitchell and Weber, (1999), pp. 181).

It’s these expectations formed from the cumulative cultural texts which lead to disappointment for both students and teachers. Although these “hero teachers” stem from real people on the film reel their characters are over romanticised leaving new teachers at a turmoil between the pulling of the popular hero vs. the curriculum. The recurring theme and what can be argued as a centre focus of Mitchell and Webers exploration of the cumulative culture texts of teaching, is that they provide an opportunity for professional development through critical reflection and evaluation.

An area in which we can link the contrasting nature between teaching pedagogies in popular culture for uses or reflection and evaluation, is the excerpt where Weber looks at To Sir with love and Dangerous minds. Both of these teachers have been portrayed as “Hero Teachers” and both have a similar style of racially diverse and disadvantaged rebellious class. As goes with the hero teacher story both teachers break through the barriers faced by these particular children. Who have been recognised as the outcasts of classroom which have been “turned around” by these teachers Miss Johnson and Sir.

But with Webers close analysis between the two we can pick out distinct differences between teaching styles and can be used for some self-evaluation of how to compare your own teaching methods. For example Sir attempts to raise the students intellect through leading by example, guidance to high culture and teaching them self-control, respect and toughness of the mind (Mitchell and Weber, (1999), pp. 178 where as Miss Johnson is ready to step into their shoes on every level including language, dress and position to illustrate to the students that there will be challenges and obstacles in which they have to make their own decisions about.

This style lead her to let her arm them with words and ideas in order to make them tougher (Mitchell and Weber, (1999), pp. 178). This little contrast illustrates show teachers can have the same goals and ambitions for their pupils but varying pedagogies will be best suited to you as the teacher and your students. Once this comfort has been achieved there is no wrong or right way to use the classroom. In short Mitchell and Weber argue that teachers should be using popular cultures view on teachers to apply this to their own self-evaluation and self-criticisms of themselves.

As this can help us to re-invent and rejuvenate ones role and ones ambitions for what teaching is and how they want to go about teaching their classes on the daily basis. Part B Dead poet’s society (1989) gently slips into sub categorical role of the Hero Teacher in the cumulative cultural texts of teaching. It centres on the teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) taking the creative art of poetry and literature to the highest level of priority within his class room. While simultaneously throwing curriculum and structure out the window.

Keating encourages students to go outside the box of Welton colleges standards and become free thinkers. Being a former student of Welton Keating encourages the boys to re-unite an old “dead poets society” in which the boys would come together and discuss the works of other free thinkers and fight back against the strict views of Welton and their families’ expectations. There are many different forms for representations of teachers within ‘Reels” but the most common and uplifting story which is what seels the movie seats and tickets are the stories of hero teachers.

The story of Keating and his throw the curriculum out the window is not dissimilar to the texts in which discovered by Mitchell and Weber in the reading. As discussed before Keating only ads a further end to the spectrum of teaching styles covered in modern day representations of teacher life. The only big issue to be considered when looking back up on theses texts for the purpose of professional development is that they aren’t realistic for the common classroom. Movies always have the perfect conditions or it’s a stable environment designed to the specifications of whatever the director so chooses.

Classrooms do not work this way there are many variables and this expectation of the hero teacher can smash the hopes and dreams of many graduate teachers in their pursuit for popularity. Thus we can see the turmoil the teachers in these movies are all perfect souls and do not have underlying ambitions behind becoming popular to students, some people may have hidden motives in which actual learning is set behind of become a hero teacher and getting the status level that people like Keating, Sir and Miss Johnson could achieve.

Each in their own way. On deeper analysis of Dead Poets Society (1989) it can be used as a model of what not to do as a teacher. Such as the situation arising between the ambitions of student Niel to follow acting and the performing arts. But this is against the wishes of his parents and he secretly engages with dramatically activities at the encouragement of Keating. As a result the parents find out and a rift is set between Neil and his parents which leads to his death as he commits suicide from the pressure.

Evidently this is a reminder of the importance to note the impact and jurisdiction of parents. As teachers we should not intervene in student lives beyond what is necessary, as seen in the movie this encouragement to break the boundaries think outside the box can go too far. Part 3 Essentially I consider that the representations can quite possibly have a positive effect which was well noted by Mitchell and Webber (1999) but can just as much negatively affect a pre-service teachers understanding of what it is for the teacher to do in the classroom.

As discussed in part one by comparing to texts of similar contexts which apply to the three criteria of being a cumulative cultural text. These can be used as a mock model in which we can evaluate to ourselves what it means for us to be teachers. But furthermore it can give us insight into the many different ways of teaching. Such as the wildly differing spectrum offered through texts I have looked at.

For example the Control styled approach of Sir (Mitchell and Webber, (1999)) and the more involved hold up the mirror lead style by Miss Johnson encouraging students to spread forth and realise their true potentials. Compared to that of Keating in Dead Poets Society who just through curriculum out the window and went for a creative independence lead teaching style. Thus leading to my next point that although there are positives to these texts there are equal negatives that can bring down the teaching profession or set unreasonable expectations on those wishing to pursue the career and become and educator.

As mentioned in part 1 ‘popular texts wouldn’t be popular unless they managed to tap into particular desires of many readers [viewers]’ (Mitchell and Weber, (1999), pp. 167). , This highlights the fact that overall these films are not real classrooms and give society and pre-service teachers either a false satisfaction or a welcoming surprise to be introduced into the world of educators. In conclusion I would have to say that the positive far outweighs the negative associated with the cumulative cultural type literature. Therefore texts uch as these can be classed as useful as well as providing a way for teachers to design themselves or re-evaluate their own teaching. It sets a positive eye for the community around teachers and promotes the profession showcasing stories in which teachers are truly making a difference to the lives or their students. These high amount of publication and popularity increases popularity of teachers and the profession in general. These benefits associated with the knowing you can use these texts to model yourself makes them useful.


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