Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society: How Far Has Education Devolved From What It Should Be?

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Dead Poets Society is a 1989 film by Peter Weir starring Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles amongst many others. It is a drama film that aims to teach its audience the importance of seizing each day as it goes by. The film in question has heavy themes of tradition, discipline, honor, and life.

The year is 1959, and Welton Academy, a very prestigious institution with a strong sense of history, is ready to start a new academic year. The scenery surrounding the campus is still breathtaking, the stone walls of the dorms and main building remain intimidating, and the headmaster, like all those before him, is a strict, conservative, by-the-book leader.

Not much has changed in the many decades since the preparatory school first opened its doors. However, a fresh breeze is soon to sweep through these chilly, revered halls. John Keating (Robin Williams), a freshly hired English professor, is the one who brings it.


Carpe Diem: Unearthing the Lost Art of Inspiring Education


A teacher walking between the tables filled with students
Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society


Dead Poets Society made it a point to make it glaringly obvious as to just how much the education system has devolved. In the search for building disciplined civilians of tomorrow, we have lost sight of what their creative potential can bring to the world. Every joke, every snarky comment, and every act that counts as misbehavior under the sun is wrung out by years worth of punishments and assignments.

Assignments that, mind you, have little to no creative signatures, the same topic, and the same questions, have been given every year to each and every individual who once had a dream of doing something different in the world. The fact that almost every assignment in academic facilities is just rinsed and repeated annually for the next batch of students is a testament to how lost we have become in the art of inspiring education.

Teachers get hired based on their expertise with no regard for how their enthusiasm toward the act of education may be. The more you know, the less you need to show. It is often said that younglings imprint from those who are elder around them. Thus, it is not a far-fetched scenario when a student gains the attitude of a deadbeat teacher who just treats his/her job as a mindless errand rather than something to enjoy and seize the day with, they would follow in years to come.

This is where Dead Poets Society comes into play, having its theme wrap around how the students of today have to be pushed into tapping their creative thoughts which they thought was something to be ashamed of before the appearance of Mr. Keating.


From Verse to Worse: The Decline of Creativity in Modern Education


A class observing something along with the teacher
Mr. Keating observing the poet inside a student


With this method of teaching going on since the late 90s, one would assume that with rapid growth in technology, the education system must have improved side by side. It appears that our current reality is quite the opposite. With the advancement of technology, humans are increasingly finding ways to avoid face-to-face interactions when sharing knowledge and wisdom.

The Dead Poets Society aims to change that thought process around. Mainly with its theme of carrying on the flame of creativity through young souls by the means of long-dead poets who yearn for their verses to live eternally.

Syllabuses become more compact with every passing year and books are filled to the brim with technical jargon. How is a child supposed to thrive in an environment built to educate fully-grown adults rather than the ones who have yet to learn the quadratic equation?


Did You Know This About Dead Poets Society?


  • When the boys show John Keating his old senior yearbook photo, it’s actually a photo of Robin Williams from Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, which is north of San Francisco.
  • Director Peter Weir put all of his young stars in the same room to foster their friendship.
  • Later, Norman Lloyd noted that because Robin Williams was going through a divorce at the time of the filming, he was in a somber mood and there was no joking around in between takes.
  • The fifth-highest-grossing movie globally and the tenth-highest in the US for the year. It outperformed the 1989 Disney films The Little Mermaid and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, both of which were huge box office successes.
  • Despite having the first name John, Mr. Keating was frequently called “Robin Keating” during filming to enhance Robin Williams’ spontaneity.
  • The bond between the boys and Mr. Keating was developed during the course of the movie, which was likewise chronologically filmed. In order to foster a realistic sense of sorrow among friends, Robert Sean Leonard was kept apart and didn’t speak to anyone after Neil committed suicide.
  • Ethan Hawke believed Robin Williams despised him because of how dissimilar their personal approaches were. Because he wanted to do a good job, Hawke took his role extremely seriously. He was also determined not to lose it when Williams unleashed the full force of his Rapid-Fire Comedy on him. He had no idea that this had impressed Robin Williams.


Rip the Textbooks! Reviving the Spirit of Dead Poets in the Classroom


A man standing on two tables while talking down to students
Mr. Keating teaches students to destroy the norms of a daily life


Some of Keating’s pupils decide to resurrect the Academy’s underground poetry club i.e. Dead Poets Society as a result of his enthusiasm for poetry. They come together in a cave to share their artistic endeavors and read poetry aloud.

Ethan Hawke as a reclusive young man who learns to stand up for what he believes in, Robert Sean Leonard as a boy who defies his father’s orders and plays Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Josh Charles as a love-sick student who uses poetry to woo a seemingly unattainable girl away from her football star boyfriend are among those who are most profoundly influenced by Keating.

When a tragedy shakes the Academy and the conservative, by-the-book administration makes him the scapegoat, Keating’s passionate belief that words and ideas can alter the world proves to be true. Now, his top pupils are armed rebels with a cause.

That is exactly what Dead Poets Society aims to introduce to modern society. To let the students have a chance to break the rules, explore their talents and stretch their minds beyond what they had thought was previously possible. As a true teacher knows that a student who knows what his/her capabilities are will far exceed one who never even reaches their threshold for creativity.


Ink and iPads: Examining the Elegy of Traditional Learning


Multiple students standing on their tables during a class
Students rebel in the form of standing on their tables and reciting poetry


Traditional learning has always had its fair share of pros and cons. However, Dead Poets Society manages to perfectly show just how overwhelming the cons of the traditional style of education have become. The days of needing massive amounts of man force in factories are long gone and obsolete. Yet, the world keeps producing one robot after the other in the form of a graduate student.

How could then the wisdom grow?
Save question,querry, learn to know
How could then the world today hold?
The precious treasure of  many years old.

~ The Modern Education by The Brook

Needless to say that Dead Poets Society is highly regarded as a favorite over here at FilmScopes due to its message and how it delivers it without any sugarcoating.


Also Read: Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One: Assembling the Superhero Saga

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