A Study of the "Dead Poets Society" Film's Illustration of the Elements of Effective Instruction

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A New Approach to Education in "Dead Poets Society"

A teacher should put into practice many components of effective learning in order to attain the learning objectives. In order to realize curriculum objectives and guarantee student success, educators need employ a variety of ideas and instructional techniques. This is shown in the methods of instruction used by Mr. Keating in the movie "Dead Poets Society." People in this movie hold Welton Academy in high regard because of what they perceive to be its respectable approach to education. There, the educational approach is rigid, boring, and ideologically constrained. This methodology, however, changed with the arrival of the new teacher, Mr. John Keating. In his classes, John asked the learners to stand on their desks and see the world from a different perspective. Furthermore, he introduced thoughtful poetry and advocated for a free divergent thinking philosophy that had great effects on the learners. Slowly, some individuals accepted him and started to face life in a brave manner. Others, such as Charlie, were looking forward to finding the real self (Haft and Weir, 1989).

Fostering Independent Learning

Mr. Keating has differentiated the teaching methodology so that he can aid in the building of critical thinkers who can be responsible for their learning, hence grow to be independent students. For instance, he brought different learning materials, such as photos in class, and asked the students to observe them. In addition, he asked the students to stand and perform certain activities such as observation. To have a variety of differentiated instruction in the 8th grade, the teacher can diversify the media and methods of teaching, the exercises, and practices performed by students to enhance the understanding of the content, as well as present a variety of materials that students use to demonstrate their understanding (Tomlinson, 1999). This can be done using task cards, creating learning stations, interviewing the students, targeting various senses, as well as sharing personal strengths and weaknesses.

Engaging All Students

Apart from using differentiated teaching methodology in learning, Mr. Keating ensures that the boys are engaged in the learning activities and through this, he was able to involve all the students despite their diverse needs. He found various ways of teaching. For instance, instead of just telling the students about the past, he made them look at it by guiding them in examining the pictures of the previous graduates during his first lesson. In a different lesson, he makes his students physically active as they read various verses. In addition, he connects between sports and language and goes ahead to expound that sports can be used to make people excel. Various differentiated methodology can be applied to facilitate learning based on the students’ level. The students in the 8th grade really value relationships and they respond well to any compliments or praises. Having fun and sharing the relevant personal experiences with the students builds and strengthens these relationships. Knowing the likes of the students as well as their talents builds a connection that gives the teacher a chance to push the learner to higher heights. Apart from the relationships, there is a need for distraction in some instances so as the gain the students' attention for long.

Educational Equity

In the film "Dead Poets Society", Mr. Keating devices a way of reaching out to every learner by understanding their strengths and shortcomings and working on improving them. This brings in educational equity. He recognized the fears that Tom had concerning a written assignment that was to be performed in front of the class and he used this as a growth opportunity. Mr. Keating guided Tom through creative thinking in a manner that will enable Tom to be successful. The teacher recognizes a wide range of needs, strengths, as well as weaknesses and utilizes the knowledge he has of each learner to differentiate his teaching methodology. This allows all the learners to be successful in learning. Ensuring there is educational equity for the 8th-grade students gives each learner a chance to realize and fulfill their life desires. This can be achieved by building confidence in every student through offering presentation opportunities whereby each student gets a chance to stand in front of the class and speak out what is in their mind (Barth, 2001).

Effective Assessment Methods

After ensuring that all the learners have been engaged in learning and that each of them has had an opportunity to learn, there is need to carry out an assessment that will help in gauging how much the concepts have been understood. Mr. Keating utilizes various modes of assessment such as giving group assignments which are supposed to be presented in class, and the best group is awarded. An 8th-grade educator can employ various methods of assessment such as class quizzes, home assignments, group-work assignments, as well as open-ended projects to get the proper feedback from the students (Wormeli, 2006). The information derived can be used to improve the subsequent lessons.

Effective Classroom Management

Mr. Keating utilizes various ways of ensuring effective classroom management. For instance, the arrangement of the desks is designed in a way that students can stand and perform certain activities freely. In addition, he also puts the learners in groups where they carry out various discussions and perform presentations. As an 8th grade teacher, one should ensure that the students work in groups and just in case they appear as if they are losing concentration, it is important to engage them in simple activities such as standing up and asking questions for them to answer. In addition, giving a reward or praising a group that is doing well will pass a message to the other groups and make them do the right thing just so that they can get the credit too.

Fostering a Learning Community

The educational philosophy which a teacher holds has an influence on the goals they put in place for the students as well as the strategies they will utilize in aiding the students to be lifelong learners, hence creating a learning community. Mr. Keating has a goal of presenting opportunities for the students to grow and become critical thinkers who are strong and independent. He encouraged the learners to give themselves a challenge, to challenge the texts they read, as well as the world around them. He advocates for the recognition of different perspectives in addition to challenging your own. Imparting such crucial skills to the 8th-grade students can help them take charge of their lives and be successful. The teacher should recognize that middle high school years are essential in shaping one’s future and personality and that the students need appropriate guidance. To create a learning community full of critical thinkers, the educator should not only concentrate on the academic work but also incorporate the social real-life examples in learning.


The film "Dead Poets Society" is an essential reflection of how effective instruction can transform the learning experience and make it better. Initially, Welton Academy was just a normal learning institution where things were done in the normal traditional manner, with no major efforts of changing the daily learning routine. However, with the arrival of Mr. Keating, things changed. The instruction methodology changed and was highly diversified. As a result, the boys enjoyed learning, and everyone appreciated the outcome as many students were able to find their voices and act independently. An 8th-grade educator can learn a lot from the film and help enhance learning, as well as help in shaping the students’ future.


Barth, R. S. (2001). Teacher leader. Phi Delta Kappan.

Haft, S. (Producer), & Weir, P. (Director). (1989).  Dead Poets Society. United States of America: Touchstone Home Entertainment.

Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom: Strategies and Tools for ---. The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wormeli, R. (2006). Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

March 10, 2023

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