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."