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Screen Lessons

What We Have Learned from Teachers on Television and in the Movies


Edited By Mary M. Dalton and Laura R. Linder

This unprecedented volume includes 30 essays by teachers and students about the teacher characters who have inspired them. Drawing on film and television texts, the authors explore screen lessons from a variety of perspectives. Arranged in topical categories, the contributors examine the "good" teacher; the "bad" teacher; gender, sexuality, and teaching; race and ethnicity in the classroom; and lessons on social class. From such familiar texts as the Harry Potter series and School of Rock to classics like Blackboard Jungle and Golden Girls to unexpected narratives such as the Van Halen music video "Hot for Teacher" and Linda Ellerbee’s Nick News, the essays are both provocative and instructive.

Courses that could use this book include Education and Popular Culture, Cultural Foundations, Popular Culture Studies, other media studies and television genre classes.

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Name the issues that matter to you. Justice? Equality? Freedom of speech? Whatever your list looks like, it’s more than a fair bet that you first learned about these concepts from a teacher—in a classroom or on a screen. Teachers and teacher characters remain central to the national discourse on a range of critical education issues from accountability and privatization to more fundamental discussions about what it means to be human and the very meaning of truth. Schools are a primary site where democracy is learned and identities are formed, and teachers are the ones who teach it, explicitly through lessons and implicitly through modeling and various hidden curricula. This volume bridges the gap between some of the most iconic teachers in popular culture and those working in classrooms across the United States and points beyond as students, teachers, and teachers of teachers.

Our teaching careers now span decades, but working with students and energized colleagues (you know who you are!) keeps us feeling vital and relevant. We have information and ideas to investigate, and just as important, we strive to provide a forum for other vital voices to share and explore. It is from that space that this project arises—the juncture of the popular, personal, and political—and it comes at a critical time when systematic efforts to strip teaching of its professionalism have taken root. Many of these efforts have come from the political right where support for public schools...

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