Myth #3: Elitist academics long to be Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society
I actually had a student write something like this on one of my course evaluations. I am fairly certain it was meant to be an insult, though I am not entirely sure of what I was being accused.
So let me see if I can figure it out by revisiting what happens to Mr. Keating.
1.) Living in cramped quarters at all-boy’s prep school? Faculty don’t live on campus, and I teach at a state school.
2.) Estranged from our partners? Luckily no, though this does happen for professional reasons.
3.) Ripping out the introductions to anthologies? Mmmmm maybe, but the paper cut risk here is rather high, and I stopped using anthologies ages ago.
4.) Overseeing the education of some horny teenagers who don’t give a flying flip about Whitman? Definitely a possibility.
5.) Having students stand on desks to give them a different perspective on “life’? No desks in the lecture hall or on the stage, just those little flimsy flip writing surfaces attached to the chairs, though the inevitable lawsuits from injured students who fall or bruise an internal organ make this a no go. Maybe for extra credit, though, if they sign a waiver.
6.) The adoration of a handful of students, while the others turn their backs on you in some sick reenactment of “anyone lived in a pretty how town”? I’d rather be respected than adored.
7.) Being fired for having the audacity to try to teach students that what they learn in the classroom has some actual connection with the world outside of the classroom? Are you kidding?
8.) Gutted idealism? Not, especially, but it depends on the day I am having.
9.) Corduroy pants and elbow-patched jacket? The Annie Hall look hasn’t been in for ages.
10.) Learning as a contact sport, complete with a classical swell (thanks for that one B.)? UT athletics will not let us on the field, so no.
Or maybe it was the part about returning to his former school to try do something meaningful. In that case, guilty as charged.
O Captain! My Captain!