Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 75

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly 71 makes him realize there is more to life than eaming big money. He sells an advertising trophy he eamed early in his career and uses the money not only to buy the airline ticket for his daughter’s trip but also an expensive telescope. W ith the remainder he buys tickets so his students can attend a performance of Henry V. More important, Rago realizes he has a talent for teaching, demonstrated by his interest in staying on and assisting the next batch o f recruits who will need his help. The same dramatic structure charting self-discovery organizes the plots o f the other two films. When he Starts teaching, Shoop o f Summer School also has no idea what to do and, like Rago, asks his students for ideas. In Shackles, Cross fumbles around until he buys a copy o f Alan Ginsberg’s Howl from a Street vendor. The poem inspires him to help his students gain control o f their lives by teaching them to write poems about their experiences. Both these teachers experience the same sort o f crisis Rago does. In Summer School Shoop is forced to accede to Student demands if he wants their Cooperation, but he comes to think he is wasting his time when they add further demands in exchange for their continued Cooperation. He storms out o f the classroom in disgust and anger. Cross’s students lose their faith in him when they think he has been angling for another job at a local high school. The scene o f their discovery is reminiscent o f Renaissance Man, though nastier. Düring a math dass, Cross’s most talented poet, a teenager named Gabriel, becomes angry because he thinks that Cross is letting his students down. “You don’t care about us,” Gabriel shouts at him. “Y ou’re just as much a loser as the rest o f us.” Like Rago, both teachers weather the crisis and grow as a result o f it. In leaming how to teach English, Shoop realizes he can teach, and the newly acquired knowledge prompts him to grow up. Cross’s story ends tragically, but not before he leams what it means to be a teacher. He teils his ex-wife: “I always thought that being a good teacher was about good scores, but it’s not about the scores. It’s about those kids. It’s about connecting with them. Maybe even inspiring them.” He later teils a television reporter that he has leamed what teaching is all about. “Can one teacher change the world, one Student at a time? A while ago I thought that w asn’t possible. But here at Shackleton, these children have taught me what it is to be a teacher, to connect and make a difference.” The films in which the protagonists are English teachers by choice appear to be different, but they have much in common with the protagonists in the above films. They are inexperienced teachers in trying circumstances entrusted with motivating at-risk students to take their