Friday, 15 August 2014

Writing - John Keating 'Carpe Diem'

Teachers have a wonderful/terrible influence on children. I remember both sides of the teaching coin from a lady who caned me, aged 5, for picking up my pencil with my left hand, to a Science teacher who believed in my ability to succeed in his subject. Robin William's John Keating in Dead Poet's Society reminded me of the other type of teacher who is prepared to think outside the box.


In the film John Keating gives the reason for standing on the desk as looking for a different view. He wasn't the first teacher I saw do something different. I was educated at a state grammar school and we had a teacher who taught sitting cross-legged on his desk 30 years before the above film was released.
In the 1970's, when I was teaching, a colleague was seen standing on a radiator in the corridor threatening to jump! He was an English teacher with a love for acting and he was indulging in a performance.

The early part of my career had space for the divergent thinker but as I neared the end the quantity of paperwork, the National Curriculum and accountability was murdering creativity, spontaneity and relationships. The 'nanny state' doesn't allow for free thinking which is not good for those children and young people who have the creative gene.


Of course those teachers who are able to saddle the horse of divergent thinking and manage to take a group of children along with them, become  heroes as depicted by the above closing scene as the now disgraced Keating leaves the school. There is another corollary in that other teachers and the management can be afraid of the free thinker as was well demonstrated in Dead Poet's Society.

One of Keating's sayings was 'seize the day' or carpe diem. I think that in Latin the full translation is 'pluck the day when it is ripe'. Apparently the acceptable English translation was introduced in a work by Lord Byron in 1830.

In producing stories, the jumping on the desk to obtain a different view, is a stratagem that may add a spike of intrigue into what you are producing. These spikes tweak the attention of the reader on the page as divergent thinking does in life. 

In the film Good Will Hunting, Williams and Damon were involved very much in thinking outside the box in psychological and mathematical terms. Perhaps we have lost one of the great thinkers of the world. Some would say that he was reading a script but it was an accepted fact that Robin Williams was famous for ad libbing and in fact in Good Morning Vietnam he ad libbed the whole script.
God Bless