Welton Academy is seen as very authoritarian in every aspect, starting from the beginning of the movie. The movie begins with a very formal assembly where students and their families attend the celebration of the new school year. The students are shown and reminded of the four pillars of success, as students march down the middle aisle with banners that display the words tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence. Order, discipline, honesty, rules, education, and obedience are considered the only acceptable qualities at Welton Academy. Mr. Keating’s style of teaching contradicts the teaching styles of the other faculty, and at first, the students are hesitant in accepting this style as being permissible. Keating demonstrates and encourages students to take a more active part in their educational and life goals with a progressive approach. Progressivism is “an antitraditional theory in American education associated with child-centered learning through activities, problem solving, and projects” (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, Vocke, 2004, p. 521). Mr. Keating encourages critical thinking, individual expression, and self-fulfillment in the students’ quest of knowledge and adulthood with phrases such as ‘carpe diem’, ...
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...knowledge or wisdom could be transmitted from a teacher to a student because he believed the concepts of true knowledge were present, but buried, within the person’s mind” (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, Vocke, 2004, p.69).
John Keating can be viewed in many different ways, and he followed many different teaching methods. I personally saw him as a Progressive and Humanistic man who followed the teaching styles of progressivism, a student-centered curriculum, with a humanistic approach to curriculum, and also followed the teaching styles of Socrates. Others may view Keating as something completely different, such as a Romanticist. Keating was an inspirational teacher in Dead Poets Society for having the courage to challenge the traditional teaching styles at Welton Academy, just to teach students about the importance of being their own person and thinking for themselves.
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