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Dead Poets Society: Keating’s Teaching Methods

In the movie, Dead Poets Society, the basic idea of expression is being taught by Keating. Keating is a very unique instructor which uses many different methods of teaching to get the students involved, but he shows them ways to have fun with the class also. That in itself is very unique. Keating is trying to release the emotions these students have within themselves. He is teaching them to make their lives extraordinary, think for themselves, and be an individual instead of a follower. In one lesson with these students he expressed this to the fullest, by having them rip out the introduction of their text books because of what J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. tells them to do with poetry. By ripping that out they realize that they have a mind of their own and others should not think for them or tell them what they should think. The most important lesson Keating teaches is “Carpe Diem,” which means “Seize the Day.” Even though this method of instruction is phenomenal and has many benefits, there are few critiques on Keating’s method of teaching.

The benefits of Keating’s instruction are of self-expression. Keating tries to relate what he is teaching to something they already know, for example, reciting poetry to music while kicking a soccer ball. This taught them that there are various ways you can recite poetry, which are the tones or mood the poem is in. Another benefit is that you look at the world differently, which Keating taught by one simple action, standing on a desk. This showed the students, again, the importance of free thinking because when you stand on a desk things look much different than when you do not stand on anything, which puts their minds in a whole different perspective. That is the greatest benefit they were taught is to look at the world the way you want to and “Seize the Day” and make it yours.

One critique of Keating’s teachings is the lack of multiculturalism. Keating basically used examples from white males and all of them were deceased. Walt Whitmann, Andrew Marwell, Robert Browning, and Robert Frost were all deceased white males. This taught the students about basically one culture. If the use of different cultures ranging from all over the world, old poets and new poets, it would have given the students an even broader outlook on the world. That way they could see how other cultures lived, what beliefs they had, and what the poets from that culture aimed their writing toward. Keating’s teachings were so remarkable that this would have impacted them even more.

As a result of Keating’s teachings the students did learn to think for themselves and have a mind of their own. This is expressed when the new English teacher takes the class over and Keating is walking out, one student stands on his desk and says “Oh Captain, My Captain.” That right there indicated his expression; he did not listen to the teacher; he stood up for what he believed in. This all is a result of Keating’s guidance. He touched all of their lives and definitely released the self-expression of these students and they will always “Seize the Day!”


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