Teachers, Teaching, and Media

Original Essays about Educators in Popular Culture


Volume Editors: and
Popular representations of teachers and teaching are easy to take for granted precisely because they are so accessible and pervasive. Our lives are intertextual in the way lived experiences overlap with the stories of others presented to us through mass media. It is this set of connected narratives that we bring into classrooms and into discussions of educational policy. In this day and time—with public education under siege by forces eager to deprofessionalize teaching and transfer public funds to benefit private enterprises—we ignore the dominant discourse about education and the patterns of representation that typify educator characters at our peril.

This edited volume offers a fresh take on educator characters in popular culture and also includes important essays about media texts that have not been addressed adequately in the literature previously. The 15 chapters cover diverse forms from literary classics to iconic teacher movies to popular television to rock ‘n’ roll. Topics explored include pedagogy through the lenses of gender, sexuality, race, disability, politics, narrative archetypes, curriculum, teaching strategies, and liberatory praxis. The various perspectives represented in this volume come from scholars and practitioners of education at all levels of schooling. This book is especially timely in an era when public education in the United States is under assault from conservative political forces and undervalued by the general public.

Contributors are: Steve Benton, Naeemah Clark, Kristy Liles Crawley, Elizabeth Currin, Mary M. Dalton, Jill Ewing Flynn, Chad E. Harris, Gary Kenton, Mark A. Lewis, Ian Parker Renga, Stephanie Schroeder, Roslin Smith, Jeff Spanke, and Andrew Wirth.

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  • 1 A Loyalty Test for the American Educator
  • 2 Schooling the State
  • 3 Rethinking Student-Teacher Relationship Intimacy as Attachment
  • 4 Mr. Miller Goes to War
  • 5 In Loco Parentis Redux
  • 6 What’s a Nice White Lady to Do?
  • 7 The Dis-Education of Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • 8 Promoted to Control?
  • 9 The Insecure Teacher
  • 10 Contrasting the Archetypal Sage with the Mentor Coach in Young Adult Literature
  • 11 Saved by the Belles
  • 12 “Good” Teacher on Her Own Terms
  • 13 Liberatory Pedagogy in Action
  • 14 Q the Teacher—TV Lessons from the 24th Century
  • 15 Speechless to Speechless
Mary M. Dalton is professor of communication at Wake Forest University where she teaches courses in critical media studies. Her scholarly writing includes The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies (Peter Lang, 2010), and she is a documentary filmmaker.

Laura R. Linder is a retired media arts professor, author of Public Access Television: America’s Electronic Soapbox (Praeger, 1999), co-editor (with Dalton) of The Sitcom Reader: America Re-viewed, Still Skewed (SUNY Press, 2016), and co-author (with Dalton) of Teacher TV: Seventy Years of Teachers on Television (Peter Lang, 2019).
List of Figures

1 A Loyalty Test for the American Educator, from Ichabod Crane to Erin Gruwell
Steve Benton
2 Schooling the State: Teachers and Democratic Dispositions on The West Wing
Stephanie Schroeder
3 Rethinking Student-Teacher Relationship Intimacy as Attachment
Andrew Wirth
4 Mr. Miller Goes to War: Saving Private Ryan and the Children Left Behind
Jeff Spanke
5 In Loco Parentis Redux: Bob and Linda Belcher at Wagstaff School
Elizabeth Currin
6 What’s a Nice White Lady to Do?: A Critical Literacy Lens on Teaching and Learning in Pop Culture Portrayals
Jill Ewing Flynn
7 The Dis-Education of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Gary Kenton
8 Promoted to Control?: School Office Culture in HBO’s Vice Principals
Chad E. Harris
9 The Insecure Teacher: How Issa Rae Has Normalized the Black Woman to Create TV Magic
Naeemah Clark
10 Contrasting the Archetypal Sage with the Mentor Coach in Young Adult Literature: Insights for Teacher Reflection
Ian Parker Renga and Mark A. Lewis
11 Saved by the Belles: Gender Roles in the Quintessential Teen Comedy
Elizabeth Currin and Stephanie Schroeder
12 “Good” Teacher on Her Own Terms: Miss Shaw in ABC’s The Wonder Years
Chad E. Harris
13 Liberatory Pedagogy in Action: The Embodied Performance of Community College Instructors in Film and Television
Kristy Liles Crawley
14 Q the Teacher. TV Lessons from the 24th Century: You Do Not have to Be an Omniscient Teacher, But It Helps
Roslin Smith
15 Speechless to Speechless: Nontraditional Teacher Characters in Recent Sitcoms
Mary M. Dalton

Film Sources
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Teachers, Teaching, and Media: Original Essays About Educators in Popular is equally attractive as a textbook in courses on education and popular culture and as a source for scholars.
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