Two of my current book projects are drawing to a close, the fourth edition of The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies and an anthology I’ve co-edited, Screen Lessons: What We’ve Learned from Teachers on Television and in the Movies.
I spend a lot of time thinking about representations of teachers in popular culture and am disheartened by recent trends that undermine the professionalization of teachers.
It used to be that good teachers were idealized and bad teachers were presented as a contrast to them to reinforce the idealization. Increasingly, as I noted in a recent interview with a journalist from The Washington Post, representations in mainstream media, especially television, have begun to depict educators as incompetent, corrupt, disengaged, crude, and worse.
The latest example is the HBO comedy Vice Principals. Public education is undermined by the ubiquity of these narratives, and we as a culture suffer for it.
I don’t long for a return to the most formulaic of the sappy stories but to something that celebrates humanity and gives us a path forward to something better.