and dedication to their well being. As a role model, Conroy shows his
struggling students that the system does not have to define them as he
set a bold example in his defiant resistance to the administration’s rules
on his path to helping each of his students.
THE EMOTIONALLY STRUGGLING STUDENT
In addition to the student who struggles academically, another
major trend that appears in teacher films when examining the students
is the varying degrees of emotional distress, instability, and uncertainty
that these children and young adults face. When examining these films,
the category of “emotionally struggling” falls on a broad continuum
with some students facing the average growing pains and hormonal ups
and downs of adolescence while others display signs of abuse and
trauma, suicidal tendencies, and ultimately unstable personalities. Films
engaging with the exploration of emotional stability among students
tend to feature two kinds of good teachers: the good teachers as a friend
and the good teacher as an agent of social justice. Another persistent
trend, however, deviates from the good teacher model and reveals a
pattern of bad teachers being associated with emotionally struggling
students. The bad teacher may range from being a bystander to being a
manipulator, especially in the sexual sense.
In the more contemporary take on these established thematic
elements, the recent 2016 film Edge of Seventeen embodies how the
emotional struggle of the quirky and awkward high schooler Nadine
Franklin (Hailee Steinfeld) leads to her relationship with a new kind of
unlikely good teacher, the wryly humorous Mr. Bruner (Woody
Harrelson). As she struggles with the trials and tribulations associated
with the awkward transition from childhood to adulthood, viewers see
Nadine seek support in the darkly sarcastic Mr. Bruner when none is
found within her family relationships, friendships, or romantic
prospects. As is typical of the emotionally struggling student, Nadine
struggles because of problems external to academics. Therefore, Nadine
and students like her seek support, that influence many times appears
in the form of a teacher or coach figure. This may be because the
13
Previous Page Next Page