What are you looking for?
21 Aug 2014

'Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary'

After the tragic death of Robin Williams I decided to watch one of his classic movies that I hadn't seen before. It was between 'Good Will Hunting' and 'Dead Poets Society' and after a little research in to what each of them was about I decided to watch 'Dead Poets Society' first. I thought it would be the perfect movie for me as it follows John Keating (Robin Williams) who plays a liberal English teacher in a very conservative boarding school who inspires his class to make the most of their lives, cease the day and follow their dreams as unique individuals. 

As a newly qualified English teacher myself, this movie left me absolutely speechless and very touched. I am sure it is inspiring for everyone to watch but as a teacher, I can't even describe how inspirational this was to me. It nearly reduced me to tears at points where I think the average person wouldn't cry. 

For example, when one of the students did not complete the homework of writing a piece of poetry. John Keating did not get mad or punish him. Instead he brought him to the front of the class and got him to scream, as a way to loosen up and come out of himself. He made him close his eyes and asked him what he saw and he amazingly managed to drag poetry out of him which left the whole class speechless. The look on that students face when he realised he could do it was touching  for me, because it's something I dream of seeing continuously throughout my career.
I'll add a clip of this scene at the end because me talking about it doesn't do it justice.

John Keating's thoughtfulness and care for his students was extraordinary. He took them out of the textbook (even ripping out pages) and out of the classroom. He helped them find themselves and encouraged them to be who they really are.

This movie made me realise just how important having a passion for your subject is. Keating adored poetry, he adored teaching.  

     "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion .And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? "

 It showed that such passion can rub off on students. Students who were used to route learning in every other class, fell in love with English and Keating because of his teaching methods and even set up their own Dead Poets Society.

Every aspect of this movie amazed me. Just seeing John Keating in situations like I have been in. Such as a cheeky reply or lack of interest on the part of students and seeing how he dealt with them amazingly and in a way that managed to not be mean, but humorous and sensible.

Some may remember him as Mrs Doubtfire or the Genie but for me Robin Williams will always be John Keating. In this movie he motivates me to be the best teacher I can be. I hope I can touch the life of even just one child in my class like he does. If I see the look on his students faces, and their sense of achievement and self worth in my own students, even just once, because of me, it will all be worth it. And I will feel like I have touched someones life and maybe made their future brighter. 

I long for the respect and love that his students have for him, maybe even someday they will stand on their desks and call me 'o captain, my captain' in an act of reverence. I would be totally cool with that.

What is your favourite Robin Williams movie? Do you have a movie that really inspires you? Let me know in the comments. 

Add your comment

Monica M. said...

I actually saw this movie in class about 1 or 2 years ago. In one way it's a teacher's job to get mad with the students to gain respect but I don't think it should be that way, John Keating gained his students hearts by being himself and not what a teacher should be and I've experienced this on 6th and 10th with my English teachers. I never agreed with things like "for one all pay" in my opinion that can even lead to bullying. I'm sure you'll be an amazing teacher :)

Rachel P said...

I love this film, I still remember watching it for the first time when I was 16. Robin Williams at his best. Great post, I hope you continue to be inspired xx


Subscribe for updates