1st Edition

Teaching, Learning, and Schooling in Film
Reel Education

ISBN 9780415737678
Published October 23, 2014 by Routledge
276 Pages

USD $58.95

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Book Description

Films about education provide many of the most popular interpretations of what teaching and learning mean in schools. An analysis of this medium reveals much about the historical, cultural, political, and philosophical dimensions of education. Timely and engaging, this book fills a gap for scholarly and informed public commentary on the portrayal of education in film, offering a wide range of conceptual and interpretive perspectives.

Teaching, Learning, and Schooling in Film explores several key questions, including: What does it mean to be a good teacher? How do these good teachers instruct? When is and what makes teaching complex? What constitutes learning? Do educational reforms work? The book’s interdisciplinary group of contributors answers these important questions in essays highlighting Hollywood, independent, and documentary films. Prospective and practicing teachers will engage with the thought-provoking educational issues raised in this book and gain insight into the complexities of teaching and learning portrayed in film.

Table of Contents


Introduction: An Invitation to Read and View

Section 1: Teaching

Section 1 Introduction: On Teaching in Film

  1. The Teacher Archetype in the Movies
  2. James Rhem

  3. From Blackboard To Smartboard: Hollywood’s Perennially Misleading Teacher Heroes
  4. Avram Barlowe and Ann Cook

  5. Exploring the Heroic Teacher Narrative with Help From the Trickster
  6. Ian Parker Renga

  7. Contending Views of Teaching in Film
  8. Daniel P. Liston

  9. Monsieur Lazhar: The Subversive Dance of Relationship and the "Fierce Urgency of Now"
  10. Linda Irwin-DeVitis and Joseph L. DeVitis

    Section 2: Learning

    Section 2: Introduction: On Learning in Film

  11. Pastry, Practice, and the Pursuit of Excellence: A Commentary on Kings of Pastry
  12. Jennie Whitcomb

  13. Dilemmas of Becoming in Searching for Bobby Fischer
  14. Kevin O’Connor, Lisa Comparini, Stephen Dine Young, and Anna-Ruth Allen

  15. Whale Rider: Culture, Cosmopolitanism, and Unofficial Schooling
  16. Steven Weiland

  17. The History Boys and Cosmopolitanism
  18. Daniel P. Liston and Ian Parker Renga

  19. A Poetics of Moral Education: Insights from Lee Chang-Dong’s Poetry
  20. David T. Hansen and Kyung Hwa Jung

    Section 3: Schooling

    Section 3 Introduction: On Schooling in Film

  21. Creating Classroom Civility
  22. Megan J. Laverty

  23. White Supremacy, Neo/Colonial Education, and the Struggle for Precious Knowledge
  24. José García, Luis Urrieta, Jr., and Eric Ruiz Bybee

  25. Dropout Nation: The School to Prison Pipeline, Educational Reform and Caring for African American and Latino Students
  26. Courtney S. Robinson, Luis Urrieta, Jr., and Nydia A. Counts

  27. The Dialectical Progression:  From The First Year and Waiting for "Superman" to TEACH
  28. James Trier

  29. Waiting for "Superman", The Inconvenient Truth Behind "Waiting for ‘Superman’", and Taking Sides in Debates About Public Schools

Katy M. Swalwell and Michael W. Apple


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Daniel P. Liston is Professor of Education at University of Colorado, Boulder

Ian Parker Renga is a Doctoral Candidate in Education at University of Colorado, Boulder


"Films about schooling provide many of the most popular interpretations of what teaching and learning mean in schools. Here, the reader will find a host of alternative interpretations. Combined, these films and their critics allow us to look at ourselves as teachers and learners and decide on our own what it all means."

Jim Garrison, Virginia Tech, USA

"Movies about education are often stereotypic and trite, featuring heroic teachers and bored students in classrooms with old desks and dusty chalkboards. Daniel Liston and Ian Renga have assembled a wide diversity of noted scholars to consider the subtle and complex ways the acts of teaching and learning have been depicted in a variety of international films. We can see here how cinema, arguably the most important art form created in the last century, can not only entertain, but also help us envision a better world through imaginative depictions of teaching and learning. I will use this volume in my own teaching and scholarship."

AG Rud, Washington State University, USA