Conformity In Dead Poets Society

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Blind Nonconformity In his play Dead Poet’s Society, Tom Schulman explores the concept of non-conformity. Mr. Keating, an English teacher in the traditional Welton Academy, teaches unconventionally. All of Welton’s teachers teach using identical old fashioned, traditionalist methods. Mr. Keating, however, challenges this standard way of teaching and teaches in a more innovative manner. Mr. Keating preaches non-conformity; he demands that his students think for themselves rather than letting societal norms dictate their thoughts and lives. In his article “Dead Poets: Live Issues,” Allan A. Glatthorn critiques Mr. Keating’s teachings and educational procedures. Glatthorn writes about the film: “I find it superficial, misleading, and seriously…show more content…
Keating’s teaching methods. I feel that Mr. Keating’s unfiltered passion, verve, and emotion, renders him too idealistic to be a truly effective and productive teacher. Throughout the play, he constantly pushes his students to be nonconformists. However, rather than producing a class full of thinking individuals, Mr. Keating produced a class full of conformists to nonconformity. As Glatthorn points out, in the end of the play, the students conform to Welton’s standards when “[the students] all conform with the school administrators' attempts to break up the "Dead Poets Society" and dismiss the teacher.” These students were always taught to conform to one way of thinking, and Mr. Keating simply had them conform to his way of thinking. Ultimately, when pressured, Mr. Keating’s students reverted to conforming to Welton’s standards. Moreover, Mr. Keating constantly interpret poetry however they want. Mr. Keating demands that his students “rip out and disregard the author’s preface to the literature text ” (ironically, Mr. Keating does not give his students a choice, he forces his students to conform to his nonconformist views, thereby rendering them conformists). Subsequently, Mr. Keating “implies that any critical commentary should be ignored” and declares that the reader’s opinion of a poem is purely what matters. I feel that this is incorrect, and Glatthorn’s following remark solidified my opinion: “There is an exception here that…show more content…
Keating should not have pressed Neil to confront his father. Throughout the play, the readers see Mr. Keating as a spirited individual,whose decisions are motivated largely by his emotions, and minimally, if at all, by his intellect. Mr. Keating is a very ideal and naive character as demonstrated by his somewhat immature approach to life: one should follow his/her heart, regardless of what society dictates. Additionally, Mr. Keating was often “simplifying complex issues”. Furthermore, As Glatthorn points out about Mr. Keating preaching mindless nonconformity: “There is no discussion of the need for some types of conformity in a society. There is no analysis of the dangers of nonconformity. There is no examination of how to predict the consequences of rebellious behavior.” Mr. Keating has yet to have seen the negative ramifications of strict, mindless nonconformity. Thus, when instructing Neil to confront his father, he probably felt that if Neil expressed his true love and passion for acting, Neil’s father would allow him to act. However, as Neil’s father is “ a ridiculous stereotype of the anxious, controlling parent”, this is quite unrealistic and somewhat innocent of Mr. Keating to suggest. Unsurprisingly, Neil’s father does not act as Mr. Keating hopes, he instead remains as cold and demanding as ever. Glatthorn, rather insightfully claims: “Now a mature teacher would have tried to help the boy understand his father's position, would have
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