Movies can inspire us to be our best selves, especially in the classroom.
Movies play an important role in telling our story. They help explain who we are, and more importantly, who we want to be.
In times of immense struggle, we evolve as a society and become a better version of ourselves, sometimes mirroring what we see in movies. For example, you can find collections of movies on Netflix that talk about our continual struggle to achieve racial equality. I watched Quincy this week, which provides a great example of how we as individuals can help drive change.
At Carnegie Learning and in the many school districts we work with, significant effort is being made to improve teaching and learning. This got me thinking about movies that reflect who we want to be. Two movies came to mind:
First, Stand and Deliver - A teacher in an urban school serving minority students sees greater potential in his students than others had. He taps into their abilities and helps them learn more than anyone in the system thought possible. The movie speaks to so many issues that we are struggling with in the U.S., including promoting equity and valuing diversity. It shows how, if we engage students in productive struggle and give them the right support, they can truly achieve.
We work to equip teachers in schools across the country to support this type of learning experience for their students. In addition, our instructional materials help students to reach further, focus on true understanding, and work towards mastery. Think about this: if you can master algebra, everything else isn’t quite so difficult!
Then there’s The Karate Kid, where Daniel meets Mr. Miyagi, a teacher who molds him into a champion Karate competitor. You see all the great aspects of an educational experience. It starts with hard work (who can forget “wax on, wax off”?) and progresses from there. Daniel is learning not only Karate, but also how to be a productive, successful human being.
In math classrooms, we are promoting a very similar learning experience. Very few of our students will go on to be mathematicians, but every single one of them will have to solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate. Math classrooms are where those skills, along with the ability to solve a linear equation, are developed.
If you have some free time while you’re stuck at home, I recommend watching these movies again, and thinking about how we can create a world where more students experience teaching from a Mr. Escalante or Mr. Miyagi. Both teachers saw great potential in their students, and helped them activate it. Our students deserve the same!
Peter is an educator with over 15 years of strategy, education, and product development experience. He led the redesign of a university, built new programs, designed curriculum, and worked within the classroom. At Carnegie Learning, Peter works with an amazing team that focuses on the development of leading edge student- and teacher-focused math products and services.Explore more related to this author