Television dramas about schools and schooling are morethan entertainment.  Discuss, using examples.

IntroductionThe question I am setting out to answer the question why ‘television dramas about schools andschooling are more than entertainment.  Discuss, using examples’ and so thisessay will set out to analyse the number of programmes andmovies that are shown regularly on TV that depict education, students,teachers, overall learning, achieving and assessment. So, we can usethis media perspective on education and the school environment to compareit to the current environment in real schools allowing us to check if the showswe view is purely for entertainment or if show is arealistic interpretation of school life.

 This is becauseeducation as a theme and as a department of government is contested as thereare a number of different methods and roles involved when providing the youthof the nation with an education and different media sources willfocus on the parts of education that they believe will make the mostentertaining programmes. This is instead of providing only real-world examplesor basing their programmes on only fact which people may not find ascaptivating to watch as the programmes they do make which involve real storylines exaggerated for effect. Typologies of education found in the media Education its self has a number of roles in anygiven society. Introduction to educationalstudies (2016) states that ‘Meighan and Harber’ (2007:225) outlined 11 significant ‘component theories”.These components are there to outline what they believed to be thepurpose of education and I can use this these theories inmy comparison to media representations.

 The component thatI feel are the least common in the media are ‘discipline andorder’ this is because TV programmes such as ‘WaterlooRoad’ chose to portray a classroom as a place of open chaos, a savageland that needs a strong teacher or head to attempt to tame it for learning totake place. This is noticeable in the first season of ‘Waterloo Road’ whenthey welcome new deputy head played by ‘Jamie Glover’ to help bring order andprevent the school from being closed by the local council.   To elaborate, GOV.

UK (2015) The purpose ofeducation speech by the Minister of Education for the United Kingdom states inhis speech ‘Education is the engine of our economy, it is the foundationof our culture, and it’s an essential preparation for adult life’. This meansthat education is there to prepare us for the transition to adultlife and to ensure that we continue to build upon the foundationof British culture and work to improve the economy. if weare to belief the behaviour of the media representations thenschool children in shows like ‘little Britain’ will never be able tocope with the rules and responsibilities involved in the work place whichmakes you wonder if they are to be believed what state will the countrybe in 20 years’ time when the current generation of school children areout into the real world.   Another purpose of education is a social one wherechildren make lifelong friends and learn the social norms they will use for therest of their life. Social Skills and School | Centre forDevelopment and Learning (2018) states that ‘School is not only a place wherechildren learn reading, writing and math. It is also a place where they learnto get along with other people and develop social skills’.

    Norms which are often evolve and schools seem tostruggle to keep up the ever-changing times especially when it comesto themes such as gender identity, racism or sexuality which aren’t explored inschools but are often depicted on the TV shows like ‘Waterloo Road’ and thestory arc about a character called Josh coming to terms with his homosexuality.’Grange hill’ shows its age with the way the staff and other students react toracist comments made about the character Benny which in a modern school wouldbe rightfully be a huge issue that demands attention. The reasons they areshown on TV is because its believed that it will shock the audience not with itoccurring because we live in more tolerant and accepting society but with thereactions on this issue from the students and staff are usually non-supportivefor the sake of the story line and to add drama but it does raise a key pointabout how a school would react in this situation.  How teachers and students arerepresented in the media The Independent. (2018) TVshows like Grange Hill and Waterloo Road put would-be teachers off profession,says chief school’s inspector online states that ‘TV programmes like ‘GrangeHill’ and ‘Waterloo Road’ have helped create ateacher recruitment crisis by putting would-be recruits off from joining theprofession’.  This shows that the medias representation of teachers on TVare harming the schools by putting off would be teachers that would work ineducation teaching children in already understaffed schools. For example, theTV programmes like’Grange Hill’ and previously mentioned ‘WaterlooRoad’ portraying most students as possibly violent, unwilling orunable to learn and therefore difficult to teach for the struggling staff. Thismay prevent people entering the teaching profession as they will compare reallife children to those in TV and not wish to spent their life in thatenvironment and pursue a different profession.

Even the name of the TV show’Waterloo Road’ is named after the battle of Waterloo which implies a day inday out struggle between the teachers and the students for power in theclassroom and this is purposely done to leads viewers into a particular way ofthinking.   In comparison teachers in theseTV programmes areportrayed with a dominant discourse across media platforms. They are portrayedin 2 particular ways. Firstly, the most common portrayal is as lazy, uncaringand uninterested in their job or the children that they are tasked with lookingafter and education. And in comparison, they are on occasion shown ascaring and loving with great investment in the children but must battle againstthe status quo and the other teachers in order to fulfill their role. This isshown in the movie ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ where the good teacher played by JuliaRoberts is shown as a sort of rebel who comes in and shakes up the norm. Shedoes this by showing a caring and understanding for her students as people andtries to evolve her teaching methods beyond the traditional teacher focusedmethod of behaviourism wherechildren will learn using lectures and the repeated practice of taught methodsfor use in tests and other methods of assessment. She instead preferred to usea child centered approachof connectivism where the children area allowed to be more creative in therelearning and direct their own paths.

This is also shown in the 1939 movie’Goodbye, Mr. Chips’ which shows that in the 60 years between the two moviesthat the standard media perception of a good teacher hasn’t changed even thoughthe subject of education has evolved many times.    The way that teaching is portrayedis very ridged and authoritarian when in reality you can be a caring teacherand follow the rules and the current school curriculum and there’s never a needto fight the system as much or at all because its obviously enhanced fordramatic effect. Furthermore, this shows how much thesemovies will and ignore realistic teaching methods and the goodteachers for entertainment purposes and a funnier comedy or more story for theirdramatic piece. To summarise itdepends on the school that the child attends which section of the learningtheory they will use to educate as it depends on factors likethe local council, if it’s a private school or state school and if it’s a faithschool but I find that teachers no matter the school or as inept or asunprofessional as those found on your Television.

  Also, a typology of educationinvolving teachers is that some if not most are portrayed as unprofessional andits clear to see teaching was not their first-choice career wise. Ifind a good example of a teacher with unprofessional behaviour tobe from the BBC show ‘Bad Education’. In this show secondary school history teacherplayed by comedian Jack Whitehall plays a character who does care for hisstudents however his antics are there for comedic effect and used specificallyfor the entertainment of the viewer, For another point he is lazy has behaviour worsethan that of his students which would not be tolerated in a real workenvironment and flat out refuses to take his role as an educator seriously.  Equality, important is the way thatthe Heads of schools are represented in the media with shows preferring tochoose between a spineless or well-meaning head that is fighting afutile battle for power against the students at the school.

Such as ‘Jack Rimmer’ playedby Jason Merrells fightingto keep his school opening. Or they are shown as neoconservative andtraditional ruling over the students as the undisputed ruler of the microcosmof the school awaiting a challenge from a new teacher. An example of this wouldbe Mrs. Appleyard in the movie ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’who Den of Geek (2018)13 most fearsome movie teachers online in their review of mediarepresentations of teachers described the character as ‘hardcore headmistresseswho leaves students shivering in her wake’. We know from the movie thather behavior leads a student taking their own life whichshould never occur in a real-life school and this kind of behaviourwould only exist in the media because of the ever increasing amount of actionsset to support students who may suffer from depression.   Students in the media are portrayedin a number of ways.

It will usually depend on the school where the programme/movie is set. Suchas inner-city state school’s children are usually portrayedas uninterested, uncaring, hostile and rowdy requiring a teacher who is usuallythe traditional story hero in these stories to come in and bring order andrestore or instill a love of learning to the children.Alternatively, the students will reside in a traditional environmentwhere Victorian era teaching is still being used where the children willregurgitate information with no creativity or independent though where passingexams in the only thing that matters. This is where they will wait for a newteacher to join and shake up the system teaching free and independent though tounlock their hidden potential with a constructivism theoretical approach toteaching students and allowing them to learn from eachother and discover new things through self-guided learningwhere they are free to express themselves.    However, across all thesedifferent contexts there are dominant discourses that areassociated and applied to students across different TV programmes in different countries.For instance, there is the bully and the victim and in some casesthe roles are not portrayed by the students as a teacher or member of staffcould also be a bully or a victim.

this discourse is often shown in media andall have similarities which are the bully is usually larger than their victimand will often be shown to enjoy taking part in the verbal or physical abuseof the victim who tends to be smaller, weaker and often with moreacademic ability then the bully.  On a rare occasion the student bully willbe helped out by a teacher or encouraged by the member of staff; an example ofthis would be professor Snape and Malfoy and while the circumstances may bewildly unrealistic students in schools this does occur. An example of thisoccurring is in the Daily Mail (2015) Teacher who encouraged pupils tobully a 13-year-old girl by writing ‘ugly’, ‘annoying’ and ‘phony’ on a boarduntil she cried wants to go back into the classroom online discusses asituation where a teacher in America lost her job after encouraging students tosingle out a girl in her class.  Referring to the question I findthat while exaggerated for the entertainment value  I found that the representation of studentsand teachers to be more then entertainment as it singles out people in thecrowd to focus in the story of an individual. This in my opinion allows a moredirect look at the issues that school children face and what can be donedifferently by staff at the schools and those that set policy for the schoolsto improve conditions for both staff and students which intern should helpremove some of the aforementioned stereotypes in schools that the media willfocus onto.  What themedia portrayal of education says about society BERA (2017) states ‘Social theoryhere refers to the use of theoretical frameworks to explainand analyse social action, social meanings and large-scale socialstructures’.

This is clearly prevalent in the medias representation of schoolsociety as every student will belong to a specific clique or group and each ofthese groups will place differently on the social pyramid based on theirapparent ‘coolness’ or popularity. So, because in TV shows and movies thegroups are layered out like a pyramid with your popular ‘jocks’ at the top whoare the sporty type and your smaller ‘nerds’ on the bottom with the lowestsocial status. In addition, the schools will be a microcosm ofsociety as a whole. It shows that in reality the groups and social cliquesaren’t as obvious are there and that the nation isn’t equal in terms of chanceand ability. However, in my experience I didn’t find thesegroups in school as clear cut and obvious as they are exaggeration in schooland lack the fluidity of real school children’s groups.   Equallyimportant is the fact that if some shows like ‘Waterloo Road’ are to be takenliterally the state of the nation youth provides a grim prediction of thefuture. What it conveys is the next generation of workers, police andpoliticians as violent, ignorant and lazy as it shows that society is too softon allowing children to growing up too soon and shown by the increasein teenage pregnancy, gang activities and drug use in some schools around thecountry.    So, I found TV shows in thiscontext to be more then entertainment but an important look into the issues inthis country that needed to brought to light and dealt with instead of pushedunder the carpet in the name of better results and higher league table places.

It shows us the parts of school life that we may not have noticed orexperienced and allows parents and other watchers to understand the newpressures that school children face and is key to understand the best way tohelp children fulfill their full potential.  How the media portrayal ofeducation will affect public perspective The media such as TV shows, moviesand news segments will often prefer to investigate and portray what they findin schools to be the most entertainment or get the most people watching.Unfortunately, this tends to be the more negative aspects and behaviours foundin school that grabs the attention of the general public that tune in week inweek out to watch the TV programmes that are aired by the networks.    Ultimately, this will and doesaffect the opinion of the education department that the general public who willbe more likely to hear about drugs found in the possession students then anexceptional group of students accomplishing something great. Which I supposesays more about society and the way we are entertained then it changes ouropinions.    It’s also possible that thereare just more negative events occurring in schools then are positive moments tohighlight and so they should be presented not to shame and stir up publicoutcry but to inspire people to come up with creative solutions tothese ever-present problems. British Politics and Policy at LSE.

2018. Why do we pay more attention to negative news than to positive news?| British Politics and Policy at LSE. ONLINE states that ‘ humansmay neurologically or physiologically predisposed towards focusing on negativeinformation because the potential costs of negative information far outweighthe potential benefits of positive information’ this may be why the media willchoose to focus more on the negative aspects of schooling then the existingpositives.   Additionally, the media’s relentlessnegative coverage on schools and the people who work in/for and attend themwill also reinforce the negative view thatsome people already held about the school system in thiscountry. The negative media coverage could also have an adverse effect on achild’s perspective when it comes to school or for the next stage in theirschool journey which would add unneeded stress and affect their schoolattendance which could affect their development. The catchon effect of this may cause more behaviour issues that themedia could pick up upon and proceed to use in their media adaptationsof school’s life and how they represent children’s behaviour.   In terms of their effect on thepublic I believe that TV programmes offer more than justentertainment. These TV dramas will affect anyone who watches it and the affectwill vary depending on their connection to education as some people view forthe sole purpose of entertainment and others will connect it to their ownexperience in education.

Amazingly it has the additional purpose of a platformto conduct critical analysis as Mitchell & Weber (ReinventingOurselves as Teachers, 1999, p171) states: Studying texts can make usmore critically aware of popular stereotypes of teachers’ work and roles, andexpose underlying socio-political agendas and tacit messages which these imagessupport, critique or reproduce. This implies that using themedia we can evaluate the work that teachers complete and the role they fulfillin schools to gain a better understanding of what they come into contact withduring their job. This illustrates that the use of the media as a tool forcritical analysis to allow the department of education or parents to take amore active role to understand and have an effect on the way that local schoolsare run and the best way to reach and educate the children.    Conclusion  To summarise throughoutthe points I have discussed in this essay I have noted that TV dramas,news shows and movies about schools, schooling, staff and students offer moreto those who view them than just entertainment. I find this tobe for a number of reasons I find them useful as an insight intowhat the men and women who produce media perceives as troubling issues insideof schools such as drugs, violence or teenage pregnancies and the new pressuresthat students find them self under.

    Moreover, how it affects thepublic perception of the nation’s youth with their behaviour inschools and the actions of the teachers. Essentially, the way they educate theyoung lives that they are responsible for and how they work to help shape theminto the people they wish to be. So because of the previously stated reasons Ifind the media devices to be more than entertainment they are an excellentanalytical tool that can be used to take a deeper look at the way schooling isthought of by the general public and while parts may be exaggerated they willbe based on fact, real issues that exist in our schools and can help us usecreative reasoning to find solutions to these issues to improve the experienceof schooling for everyone involved in the processes.  


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