The holidays are over but the weather is still cold, the skies are gray and you won’t be able to dig in your garden for months.
Seems like a good time to grab a cup of hot chocolate and settle in for a movie marathon.
This being a college town, WSU Today set out to compile a list of faculty favorite movies that involve teaching. Turns out it isn’t that easy. This being a college town, everyone has a (contrary) opinion.
“I don’t have any favorite teaching movies, and I’ll tell you why,” said Chuck Pezeshki, professor of mechanical engineering. “All the teachers in teaching movies are too obsessively involved in the lives of their students.”
Others demurred, saying that too many movies about teaching are melodramatic and cliché-infested.
“If someone were to force me to watch a teaching movie right now, I’d probably choose “To Sir with Love,” said another respondent, citing the movie’s title song, sung by Lulu, as a selling point.
Others, however, enjoyed the challenge.
Judy Mitchell, dean of the College of Education, immediately thought of “The Miracle Worker,” the story of Anne Sullivan’s efforts to teach Helen Keller how to communicate with others.
It’s the message
Jeff Bohlscheid
, assistant professor of food science, said he’d choose the original “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” “It’s a very soppy, sentimental story, but it’s nice,” Bohlscheid said. When he saw it years ago, he said, he thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I’d like to be — someone students remember and come back to visit years later.”
“Mr. Holland’s Opus” was mentioned by both Renee Hoeksel, interim dean of nursing at WSU Vancouver, and Vik Yadama, assistant research professor and extension specialist with the woods materials and engineering lab.
Another favorite, Yadama said, is “Dead Poet’s Society.” “I liked the message once again,” he said. “I like that (the teacher) shows a passion for teaching. He inspires students, and that’s the biggest thing that’s missing today.”
Jason Margolis, assistant professor in the department of teaching and learning at WSU Vancouver, said he’d choose “Hair,” a movie he showed students while teaching English in a New York City high school.
The ideas of keeping a creative spirit alive and of fighting for something larger than one’s self-interest are some of the movie themes that Margolis sees as applicable to the life of a teacher.
More about learning
Melynda Huskey, assistant vice president in student affairs, equity and diversity, said her top recommendation is “Babette’s Feast.” The movie is more about learning than teaching, she said.
“The learning is that we have to go deeply into what is present to us.” Instead of always looking outward for something more, something bigger and brighter, she said, the movie is about “being fully present in the place that you are” and finding meaning and contentment there.
“Little Buddha,” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, was one of the recommendations of Robert Barnstone, assistant professor of architecture. A retelling of the story of Siddhartha, Little Buddha is a good example of a lesson that puts the student at the center of the learning, forcing him or her to make meaning by going deeper into the ambiguity or paradox.
“I think good teachers teach memorable things that make one aware of different modes of interpretation; they are inspiring,” Barnstone wrote in an e-mail.