Friday, 23 May 2008

More about Poppy

I have already posted about the film "Happy-go-Lucky". The current issue of my trade union's magazine Report carries a "Final Word" article by Mike Leigh, the producer of this film. This is what he says about the film:

"I've tried to reflect on education, from the points of view of both teaching and learning, in my new film "Happy-go-Lucky". Poppy, a Year 5 primary teacher, is relaxed and focused, with a positive outlook and a great sense of humour. Single, she loves life, and she loves the kids she teaches. She is a good teacher. She also experiences life on the other side, as a pupil, being taught to drive and also to Flamenco dance."

The film doesn't really show enough of Poppy's teaching to let us know how good she is in the classroom. Being confident is not always the same thing as being good! Relaxed and focused - or just completely scatty? She does care about the children she teaches, as demonstrated by her child protection referral for one her pupils. Any reflection on her experience as a pupil is completely buried under the characters of her two teachers, the Flamenco instructor and the driving instructor, and her own determination to behave with a "great sense of humour".

I indicated in my earlier post that I thought the film constituted a reflection on the nature of happiness in society today. I still think that is so, despite Mike Leigh's different suggestion in this article.

Mike Leigh's comment on his own experience of the education service is quite acidic. He is very critical of the education he received at RADA - "In short, no real education, other than how to stand up straight, speak proper and be heard in the gods" - but speaks highly of a foundation course at Camberwell Art School - "At this moment, I realised that actors could be artists, a belief that has informed my life". Talking about his own children, he summarises their experiences as "The boys flourished or floundered, depending on the quality of their teachers".

Mike Leigh ends his article as follows. Physics teachers, as a breed, seem to be much keener on their own subject area and less enthusiastic for having to teach bits of biology and chemistry. Hence my sympathy for this ending:

"Obviously, all education can only be as good as the teacher. But to be any good, the teacher must be allowed to work to his or her strengths, to teach from his or her passions. He or she must always be free from distractions and irrelevant responsibilities."


Anonymous said...

Zero wonders if physics teachers are happy to be "a breed" and are there many teachers who are free of "irrelevant resonsibilities"! Also, there seems to be a dearth of comments to your blog recently.

Joe said...


If physics teachers are a "breed", are we a breed that is dying out?

Lack of comments: there is a section of the Catholic blogosphere that is more "thoughtful" and another section that is more "controversial" [generalisation, of course, that is perhaps a bit unfair to both sections referred to]. Does the latter attract more comments than the former?

bernadette said...

ON the comments thing - As you say, the blogs all bring something different. But, even though I enjoy letting off steam having a pithy comment or two here and there, the ones which as you say provoke thought (often for many days later) do not always require a comment. My actual favourite blog is one that I hardly ever comment on at all. It is so good, there is nothing I want to add. And then other blogs feel just like sitting round someone's kitchen table, having a good old chat with friends and you can jump in several times. I would say lack of comments signifies nothing, because the role of each blog is different. This one is more light than heat, and we need that too.

Joe said...


Thank you. I think you are right - very often I read something on a blog that I am very pleased to have read, but which doesn't lead me to leave a comment.

Thank you particularly for your last sentence!

Anonymous said...

zero degrees agrees that very often there is no need to make a comment- what you have written is informative and interesting- it was just an observation. Also, yes physics teachers do seem to be becoming scarce and if the answers to exam questions are to be written on the back of the question sheets you won't be needed at all ! I think that was a music paper though.

Anonymous said...

PS I'm glad i stimulated some comments but it wasn't a criticism!

Joe said...

re the answers on the back of the examination paper. The headline quite often doesn't quite convey the whole picture. I gather that what was on the back of the question paper were the copyright acknowledgements for the recordings being used on a CD for a music listening paper .... which did include the names of the pieces of music and composers and henced communicated some of the answers. Still a slip up by the exam board, but not quite as bad as actually printing the mark scheme onto the back of the question paper, which is what the headline suggested had happened!