What Can a Substitute Teacher Learn from Dead Poets Society?

There have been many movies about teachers who have changed the lives of their students. From the classic To Sir, With Love, starring Sidney Poitier to the more recent Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, this is a well-known and powerful genre. After all, who else has the power to change a person’s life as much as a teacher?

Teachers Who Inspire Their Students

Dead Poets Society is one of the most compelling movies about teachers who have changed the lives of their students. Starring Robin Williams as a charismatic teacher who teaches his students to love poetry and an equally absorbing caste of students, including Ethan Hawke in an early role, this is a movie you’ll cry with, laugh with and be completely inspired by.

Teaching Students to Think for Themselves

Robin Williams comes to the Welton Academy where he takes a unique approach to teaching poetry. He instructs his students to rip out the introduction to their textbooks which tells them how to judge whether a poem is any good. After all, this is no way to learn poetry. Poetry cannot be analyzed and deconstructed; it must be felt from deep within. In order to read poetry, you also have to write poetry. You have to find that spring of creativity deep within yourself.

Teaching Students to Express Themselves

Williams’ teachings inspire the students to start the Dead Poets Society, a secret group which meets to discuss poetry and life. The group is seen as subversive by school officials but it’s really just a way for boys whose lives are so structured to have a space where they can do what they want. Not everything has to be done with a certain aim in mind. Not everything is about securing your future or living up to the family name.

Teaching Students to Trust Their Instincts

Williams’ teaching and this secret club help the students to understand themselves better. One of them wins over a girl’s heart with his poetry. Another takes part in a school play because he wants to become an actor. A third finds the courage to suggest that Welton Academy should also admit girls.

Teaching Students to Face Difficult Situations

In Dead Poets Society, everything does not go as smoothly as planned. When tragedy strikes, it’s Williams’ character who has to take the blame. Still, the movie ends on a poignant and positive note where the students acknowledge just how much Williams’ character has changed them for the better.

Contact us for more tips on making the best of your time as a substitute teacher. Like Robin Williams’ character, you too can inspire your students to follow their hearts and become better individuals.

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