Out of the many teacher films that I have seen thus far, nine out of ten are about bachelor teachers who are always inspiring and encouraging teachers. I overlooked this pattern until I saw Cameron Diaz' Bad Teacher and realised that this movie had a woman teacher but she was afterall a bad teacher. The question that kept popping in my mind was: Why can't a teacher be a happily married woman or for that matter even a happily married man. While writing this, I have in mind the film, Freedom Writers where for a change, the teacher was a woman but she also undergoes a divorce because her husband could not handle the pressures that his wife carried as a teacher. Well, then the only solution that saves relationship problems is to be a bachelor teacher.
The archetype of the bachelor teacher has not found places only in films, even in many schools and Universities, we find such teachers. The teachers are always there for the students - solving problems, playing basket-ball, taking students to visit museums and other stuff. The teacher has nil personal life and is always there to give inspirational and motivating speeches to the students. This raises many questions for me: Can only a teacher with no strings attached (read family, relationship, etc.) be a 'good' teacher. Does a teacher have no right to a personal life? If at all a teacher (Hillary Swank in Freedom Writers) is happily married at the time of her employment, her marriage falls apart as her husband possesses a fragile ego. Why can't the audience digest a happily married woman teacher. Let me try to answer that question. A bachelor teacher by devoting all his time for the students sets a standard of 'being there' always for the students. But a female teacher by virtue of her being married cannot spend as much time as she has to cook, clean and wash for the family. She cannot do what the bachelor teacher does.
Hollywood, by making films which exalts the bachelor teacher tradition, sets a certain standard for teachers of both sexes. Once, I remember, after seeing the 2000 Kevin Spacey starring film, Pay it Forward, one student asked me, "Susie why don't you do things like him?" I was horrified. I was at a loss for words as I couldn't explain to him that in a film anything is possible. I was also horrifed because in spite of taking a lot of effort for the students of that particular class to which the boy belonged, I was faced with a lame question like that.
Meryl Streep's Music of the Heart is another delightful film but then she is a single woman who begins to teach music to rebuild her life. What is the equation between being single and being a teacher. Maybe it's TIME and more TIME for the students.
So, what's your opinion of a 'good' teacher or a bachelor teacher.
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