So far in Sociology, we have viewed two movies that paint a perfect portrait of the traditional and present-day education systems. I would like to compare, contrast, and also reflect on both “The Dead Poets Society,” and “ The Breakfast Club.” There are numerous differences between the two movies, and although they’re both in a different setting and different time frames, there are also many similarities. “The Dead Poets Society” is set in the mid-’60s in an upper-class prep school. On the other hand “ The Breakfast Club” is set in the ’80s at a typical public High School in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. Although one movie has a timeline of a whole school year, and the other only goes through one day, they both show very clearly how the average student life is and was in their respectable time frames. It is easy to compare and contrast everything from settings and timeframes to obedience, to discipline, and also even stress given by parents. I believe I could only compare these two movies if they were realistic, and I believe that they were for the most part.
It is very clear in these two movies how obedience and disciplinary action have changed over the years. In “ The Dead Poets Society,” the kids got in trouble for such things as staying up past curfew or not turning the lights off when they were supposed to. Of course, this is how some schools still work but it’s definitely no longer the social norm. When’s the last time you heard about someone getting spanked with a paddle in school? It has been a long time since I’ve heard about something like that, In America at least. If a teacher were to spank a child today, not only would they lose their job and never teach again, but they’d also have a lawsuit set against them for millions of dollars, and they’d undoubtedly lose. Now, in “ The Breakfast Club,” the kids are getting in trouble for things like bringing guns to school, assault, and possession of illegal drugs. And all the punishment they get is a simple day in Saturday School. Although the punishment doesn’t exactly fit the crime, it still shows realistically that today’s society is a lot more lenient to such things.
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It is also easy to compare such simple things as the principal or the dean of students in both of these movies. In “ The Dead Poets Society,” the principal is an upstanding citizen of society who is respected by everyone, especially his students. The students wouldn’t even speak in front of him unless asked to. It also seems that the students respect their principal, and their teachers just as much as their parents, if not more. In “ The Breakfast Club,” on the other hand, the students treat their principal like their little brother. They ridicule, mach, and attempt to torment him as much as possible, and they have no more respect for him whatsoever. The principal’s supposed to be a leader of the students and staff but instead, he’s getting advice from the school janitor. Although there were more than a few similarities between the two movies, the one that stood out most was the pressure and stress put on the students by their parents. I think this is one of the most outstanding parts of both movies. In psychology, my class and the others split into groups of boys and girls, and we had to list reasons for cheating in school on a poster board.
The number one reason for cheating by both boys and girls in all the classes was to impress our parents. It’s stress and inhibitions set by parents that lead to responses like this, and stress from parents was shown a lot throughout both movies. In “ The Dead Poets Society,” stress and pressure from parents lead to a student committing suicide, and in “The Breakfast Club,” stress by parents leads to a student considering suicide as an easy way out from his parents disowning him because he got a B in the shop. If every other aspect of the school has changed, the stress put on kids by their parents has not, and it never will. Not only has it not changed, I think it’s increased dramatically, and I believe that is the reason for all the rebelliousness we see in kids today. Parents don’t seem to see that putting stress on kids to do good, and to be overachievers, is not the only way to go about it.
Parents and authority figures seemed to be more anal about things kids did back in the ’60s too. For instance, in “ The Dead Poets Society,” kids got in trouble for having a secret society where they do something as harmless as reading the great works of deceased poets, and for trying to perform in a play that their father disapproved of. While in “ The Breakfast Club” kids got in trouble for things like smoking pot or bringing flare guns to school, which are both in a way rebellious acts. Mores and laws have changed a lot in thirty years. You certainly didn’t see kids in boarding school wearing dark makeup around their eyes or wearing torn jeans or going to jail for assault. Many parts of education have changed, and many parts have not, and these two movies illustrate perfectly which parts of education have and have not changed.
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