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The Teaching Style of Mr. Keating

Final project for course EDP 2002

Lyssa Ann

on 21 November 2016

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Transcript of The Teaching Style of Mr. Keating

The Teaching Style of Mr. Keating
The film used in this project is "The Dead Poets Society", directed by Peter Weir.
In this presentation, we seek to learn more about Mr. Keating's methods and effectiveness by examining his actions both in and out of the classroom.
Mr. Keating's Effectiveness
Mr. Keating's methods are, at best, unorthodox. From the first time he steps in the classroom, his students know he is different. He develops a close relationship with his students and keeps his expectations high (453, 492). He has a direct instruction style, which is teacher-centered, yet it bears many aspects of a student-centered style (405). Some examples of this are that many of his lessons take place outside of the classroom and he involves himself with the students' personal lives, which is not often the case in the direct instruction style (406). His students become comfortable in the class and throw themselves wholeheartedly into their work. This is both in part to enjoying the material and wanting to please their teacher. Another way Mr. Keating was effective was the way he handled his students, he helped his shy student get out of his comfort zone and succeed and dealt with his more difficult students without making them feel stupid or insignificant (497).
Development within the Students
The students in this story are at a very important stage of their lives. One aspect of this stage is that they are going through hormones, which is apparent in their fascination with girls and their strong emotions. They are trying to figure themselves out, outside of the strict expectations their parents have set up for them. This is known as the identity versus identity confusion stage in Erikson's life-span stages (74). Socially, they have their own groups of like-minded friends, such as the seven students in the picture below. Because they are at the stage where they are reasoning in more idealistic and abstract ways, Mr. Keating's passionate way of teaching is especially powerful (41). Mr. Keating knows how boys learn at this stage and so uses his unorthodox teaching to tap into their new found ways of thinking and encourage a particular group of boys to reconvene the Dead Poets Society, which he had established when he was their age.
Impressions from the Film
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, it got me excited to start teaching! Mr. Keating is presented as a great teacher who truly cares for his students. The students are portrayed realistically and were relateable. I loved how Mr. Keating taught his class, it shows that nontraditional methods have a lot of value. It also shows that you should not be afraid to color outside the lines a bit. In my own classroom, I would have some of my lessons take place outdoors or in a different room so that the students can have a fresh look on the subject. I also want to model the passion he has for his subject, this is very important in my mind and was the main idea I took from the film. If I show I am excited about, say, reading, then my students will be more likely to get excited too. Making a class engaging makes a huge difference in their progress and achievement (460).
Type conclusion here.
In my own experience, I have found that having a teacher who is passionate for what they teach makes the biggest difference. When one is able to convey to one's students the joys of one's material, such as poetry, the students will become passionate too and seek to do their best. One recent example in my life was taking an Astronomy course. Because my teacher was so excited for what he was teaching, I became excited as well and was at the top of my class. I consider this a very effective way to get one's students learning.
The new Dead Poets Society
Haft, S., Witt, P.J., & Thomas, T. (producers), & Weir, P.
Santrock, J.W. (2011).
Educational Psychology
(5th ed.).
(director). Dead Poets Society [motion picture]. United States: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.
New York City, NY: McGraw Hill
The students of the new Dead Poets Society were intrinsically motivated, they wanted to succeed because they enjoyed the material (441). They had a few classmates who wanted to succeed because they wanted a good grade, but the majority were not extrinsically motivated like that (441). Mr. Keating encouraged his students to develop self-efficacy, the belief that they
write and enjoy poetry (450). Another important lesson Mr. Keating taught was that poetry was not just something they read, it had a direct impact on their lives; an idea called transfer (324). Mr. Keating was even able to reach a student who used nonperformance tactics in class and another who was uninterested (464, 467). By the end of his teaching period, both of these students were enjoying the material and had taken his lessons to heart.
In my own classroom, I would seek to help students who were having issues with motivation by getting to know them more and maybe spending some time one-on-one with them. I would also try to make their academic work more enjoyable and help them set reasonable goals (466-467). Since I have anxiety, on top of being a perfectionist, I feel I could really help students who struggle in these areas. I will also keep my expectations high and communicate to my students what is expected from them (453).
Overall, this film shows the power teachers have with their students when they teach passionately and effectively. It also shows how students react when their parents force their own ideas onto their children without listening to what they have to say. Mr. Keating's care and love for his students is an example I seek to follow for my own future classroom. I hope that others would also draw inspiration from this amazing character and make the school system a better place by it.
Bonus and Totally Optional!
Here is a great scene from the film and a tribute to the great Robin Williams for your enjoyment.
Full transcript