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The Hollywood Curriculum

Teachers in the Movies – Third Revised Edition

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Mary M. Dalton

The third edition of this book analyzes over 165 films distributed throughout the United States over the last 80 years to construct a theory of curriculum in the movies that is grounded in cultural studies and critical pedagogy. The portrayal of teachers in popular motion pictures is based on individual efforts rather than collective action and relies on codes established by stock characters and predictable plots, which precludes meaningful struggle. These conventions ensure the ultimate outcome of the screen narratives and almost always leave the educational institutions – which represent the larger status quo – intact and dominant. To interrogate "the Hollywood curriculum" is to ask what it means as a culture to be responsive to films at both social and personal levels and to engage these films as both entertaining and potentially transforming.

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Chapter 5: Divided Lives: The Public Work and Private Pathos of Women Teachers in the Movies

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DIVIDED LIVES

The Public Work and Private Pathos of Women Teachers in the Movies

Introduction

Carol Witherell and Nel Noddings write that good stories allow us to “both know and imagine our world” (1). Whether or not the stories are “good,” stories are used by most of us to construct some meaning for our existence and to find ways to form connections with other people. Our very lives become stories when we move from the feeling of them to thinking and talking about them. And, as Fiske points out, these stories of our lives are inextricably linked to the stories we hear about the lives of others. This chapter discusses how feminist scholars have positively influenced the way we understand teachers’ lives with regard to gender, an influence generated largely through the use of narrative research techniques. At the same time, the narratives of popular cinema continue to either ignore women teachers or to recast them in stereotypical roles. There is a remarkable intertextuality between the research conducted by feminist scholars on women teachers’ lives and the lives of women teachers in the movies. Over the last couple of decades, there has been an active group of researchers in various disciplines working on narrative research projects. Some of these researchers have moved from traditional ethnographies into a more critical (and inclusive) stance, some have come out of oral history traditions, and still others come from various feminist perspectives....

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