superlative student because of her dedication to staying on the right
track despite her difficult home circumstances. As a unique, mutually
beneficial friendship develops between the teacher and student, they
begin to help each other with various issues and to look to each other
for support. The climax of the film comes when Drey ends up
completing a drug deal in which Mr. Dunne is the buyer, which catches
both of them confronting their respective issues.
In this film, Drey can be seen as the emotionally superlative
student because of her ability to resist the culture of violence and crime
and to recognize when she does get involved temporarily that she is
better than this. The film ends with Mr. Dunne still dealing with his
addictions but now without a job. In this case, Drey seems to be the
teacher of sorts. Without any powerful adult figure in her life, she
appears to fit the mold of a student wise beyond her years. Drey is a
self-directed student, and she is able to be her own parent, moral
compass, teacher, and more while rising above her circumstances. Mr.
Dunne, on the other hand, fits the model of the teacher as a student: he
is an educator who teaches his students, yet he simultaneously is able to
learn from the same individuals he teaches. Although he is a good
teacher in the classroom, in his personal life Mr. Dunne learns from
Drey rather than the other way around.
This reversed unexpected role of a student as the teacher is one
that can also be examined in the classic 1987 film Dirty Dancing. First, it
is important to note that while other categories of struggling and
superlative students are linked with various versions of the good
teacher, the emotionally superlative student is so well adjusted and
mature that in many cases the teacher can learn just as much from the
student, if not more, than the student can learn from the teacher. In
Dirty Dancing, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) befriends a
dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) while on vacation with
her family. Over the course of the summer, Johnny and Baby fall in love
as he teaches Baby how to dance and introduces her to many new life
experiences. When Baby’s father finds out about the relationship and
makes his disapproval clear, her eventual decision to go boldly against
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