storm for academically struggling students. In one chapter of the book
author William Ayers notes that as a result of this issue in schools, “the
movies tell us...that schools and teachers are in the business of saving
children -- saving them from their families, saving them from the
purveyors of drugs and violence, [and] saving them from themselves”
(201). In films featuring the academically struggling student and the
good teacher, such as To Sir, with Love (1967), it is evident that these
students are not bad people per se but, in most cases, are products of a
difficult upbringing, hard life circumstances, and other factors out of
their control.
While most teachers are not up to the task of exceeding the
basic requirements of the job to go out of their way and help these
students, “the occasional good teacher is a saint… he is a solitary hero”
(William Ayers 201). These good teachers are the saviors and heroes of
students struggling academically because of the extra effort they exert
in attempting to connect with and and eventually save receptive
students while overcoming backlash from the administration, fellow
teachers, and the community. In Stand and Deliver, for example, high
school mathematics teacher Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos)
pushes students in the academically inferior James A. Garfield High
School to hold themselves to higher expectations, despite driving
himself to a heart attack at one point from working too much. He is a
savior because he sees the potential within unmotivated and failing
students and stops at nothing to connect with these young adults, work
that ultimately pays when many of these previously struggling students
pass the rigorous AP Calculus exam.
In a similar vein, good teachers can also be seen as martyrs who
will do whatever it takes to help their students, even when faced with
difficult administration or the associations that come with being the
outsider good teacher. As Dalton notes, the teacher as a martyr is “the
self-sacrificing, morally upright teacher served to model ethics… and
advocate for people who had been ‘victimized by racism and prejudice
[in the education system]’” (22). Therefore, the martyr saves
academically struggling students in the sense that these teachers
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