The Theme of Education in “Dead Poets Society”

The definition of education is the knowledge and development resulting from being educated. (Merriam-Webster). Education is a crucial part of a teenagers life and can often be taught in an older style. An example of this is a school called Welton Academy on the movie Dead Poets Society written by Tom Schulman. Welton Academy is a private all boy school and focuses on students being the greatest. Although this works, sometimes educators have to get creative and interact with students outside of the classroom environment. A perfect example of this is a teacher by the name of John Keating. John Keating is a former honors graduate of Welton and a new English teacher. His views on teaching greatly differ from the other teachers. His method sometimes can raise questions from the other members of the staff. While some may stand by the argument that John Keating was not a great teacher, another look would reveal that he taught very differently, built their confidence and to follow their dreams.

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John Keatings ability to teach differently from the other teachers is one of the reasons he is a great teacher. One of the most memorable scenes of the movie is when Keating has his English class rip out the first page of Understanding Poetry by J. Evans Pritchard. This page basically states that all the poetry in the book should be ranked on a scale of perfection and importance. Keating proceeds to say, “Excrement. That’s what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We’re laying pipe, we’re talking about poetry… Now I want you to rip out that page.”(Dead Poets Society) Mr. Keating although finds a perfect opportunity to bring up that poetry should not be measured by perfection and importance. Many teachers would’ve just taught the students what was in front of them and had them learn that all year. Mr. Keating though decides to teach his students a different outlook and not always to go off what the book says. Another way that Keating taught his students differently is by having them stand on his desk. Keating says,“I stand on my desk to remind myself that we must constantly force ourselves to look at things differently.” (Dead Poets Society) Many teachers would not think of incorporating a lesson like this but low and behold Mr.Keating does. This lesson teaches the students that they will all see the classroom differently from the rest. This lesson is not only important in the classroom but important in life too.

The capability of having a teacher build students confidence in and out of the classroom is another reason that John Keating is such a great teacher. For one of Mr.Keating’s lesson he takes the class outside and has a group of them walk. He explains that they all walked the same. He then says,“But you must trust that your beliefs are unique your own. Even though others may think them odd or unpopular … I want you to find your own walk right now.” (Dead Poets Society) Mr.Keating is trying to teach that even though everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you have too. He was trying to build their confidence in their walks and to not care about the other walks. Another example is Mr. Keating trying to break Todd out of his shell. Todd kept being compared to his older brother and wasn’t feeling the best about the attention going to his brother. Many teachers would of just kept comparing him but Mr. Keating sensed he wasn’t confident and tried to build it. Mr.Keating says,“I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal.” Mr. Keating encouraged him and got him to read his poem, when he barely talked at all.

Regardless of what others say, Mr.Keating always encouraged his students to follow their dreams with everything they do. One of his students, Neil Perry, thrived to be an actor but his father does not want him to be one. Mr.Keating realizes that the play means alot to Neil and wants his father to understand his dreams too. Mr.Keating talks to Neil and says, “Well, if it’s more than a whim, then you’ll have to prove that to him. You’ll have to show him with your passion and commitment that it’s what you really want to do. If that doesn’t work, at least by then you’ll be eighteen and able to do what you want.” (Dead Poets Society) This conversation is important because Mr.Keating is trying to tell Neil to pursue his dreams and not be afraid of the outcome. He still wants his dad to know but he still wants to follow his dreams. Mr. Keating teaches the viewers to follow their dreams no matter what someone might say. While helping Neil pursue his dreams was a memorable moment in the movie he also helped other students and teachers too. While talking to Mr. McAllister Mr. Keating realizes that he doesn’t believe in students following their dreams. Mr. Keating replies with, “But only in their dreams can man be truly free.” (Dead Poets Society) He is explaining that when people have hops and dreams they can be truly happy and look forward to something. Teaching someone to follow their dreams can be tough but Mr. Keating makes it effortless.

All in all, Mr. Keating was a very different teacher and was not an ordinary teacher. Some examples are that he taught very differently, built their confidence and to follow their dreams. Mr.Keating might not be an ordinary teacher but he is a great teacher.

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The Theme of Education in "Dead Poets Society". (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from
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