whose patience and work continue to help me in my quest to combat
what seems to be increasing illiteracy that results from the mathematical
degree I pursue. These remarkable individuals’ dedication to fostering
their students’ intellectual curiosity extends past the classroom to the
many hours they sacrifice to prepare lectures and host office hours just
to become the best resources they can be for their students. While I’m
sure professors at Wake Forest compare favorably in rankings of
university professors, I do not think that my experience with professors
is unique. Professors work hard to prepare before accepting a teaching
position then work hard to prepare college students for their futures,
striking a balance between teaching and research or creative activity that
is known at Wake Forest as the Teacher-Scholar Ideal. Why is it, then,
that most college professor characters in Hollywood movies represent
an almost polar contradiction of the characterization I described above?
Rather than presenting as an ample source of knowledge and support,
Hollywood professors tend to assume an exploitative role with regard
to their students. Perhaps part of the reason is that such conflicts raise
the dramatic stakes in movies, but the pattern is troubling whatever the
reason. This exploitation takes on two forms: the sexual and the
intellectual. Professors in movies almost always either engage in sexual
relationships with their students and/or manipulate their students’
intelligence and intellectual property in self-interested ways that benefit
the professor directly.
As a mathematical statistics student, I am incapable of hearing
the word “model” without immediately thinking of the statistical trends
from my other classes that we quantify into equations and ultimately
refer to as “linear regression models.” The Hollywood Model of the
“good teacher” developed by Mary M. Dalton relies on empirical
methods—observing patterns in films—to create categorization
schemes that reveal the traits that consistently define certain types of
characters. Just as The Hollywood Model provides an analytical
description of the good teacher character in Hollywood films, linear
models create an argument that a given “response variable” can be
broken down into some combination of other “explanatory variables”
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