Monday, July 19, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Every teacher out there knows that mid-July marks the end of the carefree days of this thing called summer vacation.  When you go to Walgreens to grab a pack of smokes and you see the back to school section stocked and ready you know it's all but over.  That prospect gets me thinking about the movie Goodbye, Mr. Chips.  I have recently re-viewed this classic movie in its 2002 TV production with Martin Clunes ( a close second to Donat's version ) and realized the beauty, and constant struggle, in the profession. That beauty and struggle, however is not the focus of this post. 

One cannot escape the scenic and historic treasure that this movie (in any of its manifestations) delivers to the viewer.  Not to mention the traditional aspects of the teacher in history.  Who wouldn't want to go to the teachers lounge for a smoke and a drink?  I say that would make the day roll on by with the greatest of ease.  The main thrust of this post is on, of course, the traditional elements of the film.  The viewer is given a picture of an educational system that has passed .  We see the clash between tradition and progression, what's expected and what can be, and the old and the new. 

With that being said, it is interesting to think of what has been retained from this bygone era.  We've retained school uniforms with distinctive ties, the Socratic method, school boy pranks, power struggles, family problems, and so on.  The one thing that I see missing is teacher dress.  To a point, I believe that many teachers today think of dress as a pain.  What happened to the view of the teacher as a prominent example of gentlemanly virtue?  Why is that some feel the need to dress below the students?  Perhaps it is the fear of ridicule.  Maybe it's the spirit of the age.  Maybe it's the salary, or the even pure laziness.  I don't know.  

What I do know is Chips is a great example of how a teacher can be an example for all teachers out there.  Look sharp, be professional, and the students will know more is expected of them.  Remember they are your kids for the day, be an example.  We are surely not perfect, but we might be the only adult male in their lives.  Go watch Goodbye, Mr. Chips again, or for the first time, you'll see what I mean.

One last thing, remember what Chips said about his kids "I have thousands of them...thousands of them...and all boys."