Whiplash: A Theoretical Analysis

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In Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014), Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a renowned music teacher from Shaffer Conservatory of Music, stumbles upon a first-year drummer named Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller). After hearing Nieman play, Fletcher offers him the chance to audition for his jazz band. After auditioning for Fletcher’s jazz band, Nieman is accepted into the band and quickly gains a spot as the lead drummer. However, shortly after Nieman joins the band, he learns of Fletcher’s aggressive ways of teaching and pushing students, including yelling obscenities, hitting students, and throwing things at those who mess up. Although Terence Fletcher demonstrates an aggressive way of motivating and teaching students, scholarly literature argues that…show more content…
Nieman then sits back down with a massive grin on his face. After this scene ends, it cuts to Nieman asking a girl on a date, thus showing that Nieman has gained a boost of confidence. This confidence boost is because he was chosen by Fletcher, even though he did not expect to be chosen. Marcus Henning, an author of Student Motivation and Quality of Life in Higher Education, discusses an idea called the expectancy-value theorem. Henning writes “In simple terms, the expectancy-value theory suggests that students assess the success or failure of their learning based on how consistent this is with their expectation” (Henning 17). This means that if a student meets or exceeds their own expectations then they will define what they did as a success, but if a student does not meet their expectations then they will define what they did as a failure. Since, Nieman was not even a core member of his first band, it was very unlikely that Fletcher would choose him, meaning that Nieman had low expectations. However, since Nieman is chosen by Fletcher, he far exceeds his expectations and sees himself as being very successful. Henning also writes about how this expectancy-value theory relates to motivation. Henning writes, “A student’s
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