Documentaries, Biopics, and Reality Television
Acknowledgments and Introduction
As I was writing this book there were two films titled Teacher of the Year: one came out in 2014 (Strouse), and the other was scheduled to be released in 2015. Strouse’s was a motion picture film starring Keegan-Michael Key as a principal and Matt Letscher, who has just become “teacher of the year;” the other stars Angie Scioli as herself, a former “teacher of the year.” While Letscher’s is a fictional film pretending to be a documentary (a mockumentary) and Scioli’s is a documentary, both feature teachers who are not new to the profession and who are facing similar experiences. These depictions are a departure from the new-to-the-classroom idealistic teachers that dominate the genre of school films, which I define for the purposes of this book as a film that focuses on teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Films like these that are focused on similar issues—in this case, honoring two excellent teachers who are struggling to balance the demands of their teaching jobs and everything else—always catch my attention.
It wasn’t until I was preparing my materials for promotion and tenure that I realized so many of my publications and presentations had been in the field of school films. I thought that I had been writing about more “important” issues in education: young adult literature, teacher preparation, and English language arts. Looking back, however, and specifically at my first publication ← vii | viii → about a school film, Napoleon Dynamite (Hess & Hess, 2004), I...
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