Teacher representations in popular films : reception and relevance to professional development and change
The research brings together elements from two disciplines, the sociology of education and film studies, to investigate the relevance of 'reel' world teacher representations to the real world lives of teachers, and to explore how the former offer opportunity for reflection on professional development and change. Media texts are utilised as an unconventional resource as either a replacement for and/or enhancement of educational theory, and teachers drawn from different stages of the teaching life cycle provide empirical data via their writing aspects of teacher culture in response to the stimulus of each text. In an age of visual culture, educational research which explores the medium of film is an important resource for professional development and change is an original contribution to knowledge at a time when current concerns are largely related to the repercussions of the ongoing implementation of government reforms. The research identifies the charismatic teacher who inspires loyalty and admiration in his/her students, forming a special relationship with them in a way which no other colleague can. A more complex analysis suggests that there are four varieties of the charismatic teacher: the eccentric, the resilient, the romantic and the enduring. Responses to such characters reveal that real world teachers reflect on the uncinematic bureaucracy of their everyday work compared with energised settings where student problems and cynical colleagues are overcome by 'reel' world teachers unfettered by pre-set agendas. A real/'reel' overlap occurs as real world teachers re-examine the personal and professional relationships which underpin their everyday work. Through watching examples from screen culture, they reflect on what the demands and rewards of teaching are, and how these impinge on a teacher's health and private life; the development of relationships with both students and colleagues; and the influence of those outside classroom and staffroom, both at local and government levels.