Posts Tagged film

Learning from: Mary Poppins

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a range of texts (‘literary’ and ‘pop culture’) that I can use in lessons with preservice English teachers.  I’m looking for things that are interesting texts in their own right, as well as can shed some light on an important aspect of secondary education or English curriculum.

My find for today is: Mary Poppins (1964)

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun –
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game!

An uplifting message and one which bears a clear connection to Games Based Learning.

There are certainly conflicting discourses in the song though – I’d love to take an extract from 1984 to compare and contrast here, the one where Orwell describes how the proles are kept in line through pop music and the lottery…

‘a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ (eek!?)

Another one of my favourite songs from the movie (and no, I’m not generally a fan of musicals) and another that I think bears exploration is the Chiminey Sweep song.  I’ll let you do your own reading of that one!

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when
I shake ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that’s lucky too

Now as the ladder of life
‘As been strung
You may think a sweep’s
On the bottommost rung

Though I spends me time
In the ashes and smoke
In this ‘ole wide world
There’s no ‘appier bloke

Up where the smoke is
All billered and curled
‘Tween pavement and stars
Is the chimney sweep world

When the’s ‘ardly no day
Nor ‘ardly no night
There’s things ‘alf in shadow
And ‘alf way in light
On the roof tops of London
Coo, what a sight!

I choose me bristles with pride
Yes, I do
A broom for the shaft
And a broom for the flume

Though I’m covered with soot
From me ‘ead to me toes
A sweep knows ‘e’s welcome
Wherever ‘e goes

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
When you’re with a sweep
You’re in glad company…

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Best teacher movies of all time

I have always wanted to design a pre-service teaching unit based around a reflection on a range of ‘teacher movies’.

We all know the kind: teacher finds themselves out of their depth, but then struggles against the establishment and/or personal odds to overcome adversity and transform the futures of a group of wonderful young people we come to know and love.  Oh, and there’s usually some kind of tragedy, you know, to make a point.

Here in no particular order are my top five teacher movies of all time:

  • Dangerous Minds (starring Mchelle Pfeiffer)
  • Dead Poet’s Society (starring Robin Williams)
  • The Breakfast Club (the John Hughes classic)
  • Mr Holland’s Opus (starring Richard Dreyfuss)
  • Coach Carter (starring Samuel L Jackson)

It would be a great unit: 10 weeks, 5 movies, 1 week watch the film and set readings, next week do a critical analysis.  It would draw in sociology, philosophy, productive pedagogy, and some psychology too, especially around theories of motivation.

Hands up who wants to do my course!

Are there other movies you would suggest?

PS: I spy with my little eye…students from QUT checking out my blog!

Hello, and welcome 😀  Please feel free to add comments on any post.  There is also a ‘blogroll’ on the right of the screen where you can find links to other blogs that I have liked to read.

Blogging is a great way to share your ideas with others, but also to process your own experience and support your reflective practice.


NSW syllabus gets some good press!

Thank you David Dale, for your refreshing column in this week’s Who We Are column in the Sun Herald “Better living through English”.

Dale describes his reading of the NSW 7-10 English syllabus, and finds “that it doesn’t just give students tools for communicating clearly in adult life, but it actually wants to turn them into decent people.”  He also was surprised to find such a high level of rigour in the syllabus, observing that in contrast: “In my day, the teacher was happy if you left school able to quote a bit of Shakespeare and tell the difference between a metaphor and a simile.”

One element that Dale praised especially was the fact that English is “not just about books any more. The syllabus uses the word ‘text’ to cover movies, TV shows, articles, books, plays and even video games.”

This column made such a nice change from the usual (misinformed) bile that we see from the likes of Donnelly and Devine.  Nice to start the teaching break on a positive note…it sure has been awhile!

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