Is there an English teacher out there who doesn’t love the 1989 Oscar-winning film Dead Poets Society? Doubtful. I first saw the film when I was high school senior (go ahead, do the math) and wanted to both marry Mr. Keating and be Mr. Keating. Well, I married Mr. Randazzo instead, but I’ve definitely added a healthy dose of Keatingness to my teaching style.
I wanted to share this cinematic delight with my students when we study Transcendentalism, but it’s not enough to just watch the movie; the film begs for a rigorous study of the poems on display in Keating’s classroom. To that end, I built three lessons that can be interspersed through a week-long viewing of the film or saved for post-viewing work. Each lesson includes a depth-of-knowledge question handouts (with detailed answer keys, of course) that will require students to read closely, dig back into the text, and think deeply about the theme, structure, and modern relevancy of each poem.
Want to fall in love in Walt Whitman, Robert Herrick, and the boys from Welton Academy all over again? Click here for Dead Poets Society lesson materials that will challenge and inspire your teens.
UPDATE – August 11, 2014: Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. My heart is heavy.