Tennessee has long been home to many great educators. In fact many people do not know this, but the movie Dead Poets Society is based on the lives of two teachers at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dead Poets Society makes extensive use of literature. Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and even Vachel Lindsay gets a mention.
There are 5 ideas in the movie we can all learn from:
- No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
- You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.
- This is a battle, a war, and the causalities could be your hearts and souls.
- Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.
- Carpe diem. Seize the Day. Make your lives extraordinary.
The teacher John Keating, played by the incredibly talented actor and comedian Robin Williams, was the inspiration for his students. His pursuit of excellence in the classroom made his student’s lives extraordinary. He taught them to break out of their shells, to pursue their dreams and seize the day.
Critics argue that the teacher really did not allow the opportunity for original thought. Kevin Dettmar for example says, “It’s a freedom that’s often preached but never realized.” To which I would reply with another quote from Mr. Keating: “When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.”
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.