strategies for creating these transformations. Ron Clark and Fraulein
Maria both use the technique of practical pedagogy to transform their
students. The Ron Clark Story (2006) depicts the story of someone I
consider to be one of the most influential educators in popular biopics.
He employs a number of techniques to connect with and spark the
interest of his students, and one of them is music. Clark creates a
“Presidential Rap” to help his students remember the presidents in
order so that they can better understand history (Dovico 7). Another
film in which a teacher uses music as a transformational pedagogical
tool is The Sound of Music. Fraulein Maria uses the song “Do-Re-Mi” to
teach the children how to sing. This tool allows the children to catch
on quickly and transforms the Von Trapp children by exposing them
to an expressive outlet and a way of connecting with their father. Like
so many children, I used this transformational pedagogical tool myself
years ago to learn the alphabet and to memorize the 50 states. Today,
classrooms are using the recently produced musical Hamilton to help
children connect to the foundation of our nation and the time of the
fore fathers’ creation of the constitution (Fertig). Clearly, this time-
tested strategy is still effective.
The second way teachers in the movies transform students
through music is liberation, which is achieved by teachers who use
music to free their students. Examples of this technique include the
biopic Conrack (1974) in which Pat Conroy (Jon Voight) liberates his
students by teaching them thematic analysis, critical thinking skills, and
how to interpret music. Before Conroy arrives on a remote island off
the coast of South Carolina, his students are under the authority of a
teacher who believes (like the superintendent) that the most important
things are “order, obedience, control, and smooth sailing.” When
Conroy liberates his students from this way of thinking, he teaches his
class the importance of listening, thinking, and learning about the world
outside of their daily experience. These gifts give the impoverished
students of Yamacraw Island the possibility of a life they have never
imagined. Conroy teaches the children that the Beethoven piece is
“death knocking at the door,” and they demonstrate their
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