Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby christopher::: » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:12 am

I teach a popular culture course here at my University. This semester I was presenting the difference between British and American hero archetypes. American superheroes, for example, vs. the British wizards and the King Arthur archetype (as seen in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter).

Image

I got my sons Kung Fu Panda on DVD for Christmas and that got me thinking about the Asian teacher/student model in pop culture. Some further digging into this and it looks like the model was introduced by Bruce Lee, in the early 1970s. He helped develop the ideas for the Kung Fu tv series, and intially was going to star in it.

Image

Soon after that we had Star wars, with Yoda. Later the Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Matrix, etc. My students were quite interested to learn about this. If this is correct, that Bruce Lee introduced this model into the popular culture it could help explain the strong Taoist flavor a lot of these stories have. They don't really teach or communicate that much of the dhamma, unless you count the emphasis on concentration and right effort.

On the other hand these portrayals do provide a rough model of the teacher/student relationship that might inspire some young people to look for a teacher when they get older. Not very realistic perhaps, but with the exception of Merlin and Arthur, I can't think of many cases where that relationship model is portrayed in Western literature or especially in popular culture.

Image

Our modern pop cultural model of the "teacher" in school settings is kind of negative, and less focused on one-to-one interactions. My own sense is that modern culture actually discourages teachers and students from getting too close.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. I might get to a paper on the topic eventually, lol. It's kind of interesting.

Image

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EmEPXXJ4sKw

"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You are the one who must walk through it."
Morpheus, The Matrix
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:25 am

Greetings christopher,

Interesting thoughts.

Another slant on the Teacher/Student relationship is that of a 'mentor'. A mentor acts as a guide and helps someone where they can to the best of their ability. The concept of a 'mentor' in Western culture feels a little bit out-dated and/or restricted now only to a business or commercial sense where a young budding entrepreneur sucks up to a successful business-person in the hopes of pandering to their ego and learning the tricks of the trade. You don't so much hear of 'mentors' in other aspects of life however, and I think that's a shame... and 'life coaches' expect payment. :roll:

It's even possible for two people to mentor each other on respective matters... a little like an example venerable Gavesako provided elsewhere where someone who knows jhana meditation teaches tranquillity to someone skilled in vipassana, and that person skilled in vipassana teaches insight meditation to the yogi skilled in jhana. Such a person would be a kalyana-mitta ('good friend', or 'spiritual friend'). I'm thankful to have a few people in my life who fall into this category, all them Dhamma Wheel members incidentally, and I hope that we're able to help each other strive on.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14521
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:42 am

Hi Chris

A few more for you:
-- School of Rock
-- Educating Rita
-- Goodbye Mr Chips
-- 1960s movie with Sydney Poiter - I forget the title and too lazy to look it up!
-- Rocky I
-- The Name of the Rose

That should add a bit of variety.
Cheers

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:11 pm

how about Darth Vader and the Emperor, or Darth Vader and Luke?
two guides who had a very influential impact both positive and negative on Vader's life!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5661
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby KeithBC » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:35 pm

Ben wrote:-- 1960s movie with Sydney Poiter - I forget the title and too lazy to look it up!

"To Sir with Love" ?

Om mani padme hum
Keith
User avatar
KeithBC
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:16 pm

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:48 pm

Manapa wrote:how about Darth Vader and the Emperor, or Darth Vader and Luke?
two guides who had a very influential impact both positive and negative on Vader's life!


Well done my young apprentice!

From the same series:-
-- O B Wan and Anakin
-- Anakin and Darth Sidius
-- Yoda and Count Duku

These examples are of students rebelling against their teachers.
Cheers

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:49 pm

Thanks Keith

BTW, love the avatar!
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:25 am

Hi Christopher,

Stretching the word 'modern' a little...

The monk Zosima and Alexei Fyodorovich (‘Alyosha’) in The Brothers Karamazov. And later in the same novel: Alyosha and the young boys in the Ilyusha narrative.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:14 am

OK, if we are going to introduce novels, then I'll mention a novel I mentioned on another thread:
Narciss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

On a Buddhist front, one could introduce the Malindapanha (Questions of King Milinda) as an ancient example of the student/teacher relationship.
While the focus is the exposition of the Dhamma, there is some detail about the relationship between King Milinda and the Arahant Nagasina. In fact, Part 1 'Past History', charts the relationship between Nagasina and Milinda in past lives. An interesting counterpoint to Modern Western pop cultural references.
Kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:11 am

Thanks all of you for jumping in with your insights and suggestions. Keith, that avatar is priceless. I'm gonna try to dig up some of my old photos (think- roger daltry, peter frampton). :D

If i ever get to a paper on this then the models in literature are also related. A question for all of you, was there a pop culture model that influenced or inspired you when you were young?

I was really into Bruce Lee and the original Kung Fu tv series.

I especially loved the Zen/Taoist wisdom of Master Po....

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=J5kBqrHphjo
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Ben » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:41 pm

christopher::: wrote:A question for all of you, was there a pop culture model that influenced or inspired you when you were young?


Hi Chris

When I was a teenager, my heros were musicians. Mainly Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Cheers

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby christopher::: » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:28 pm

Ben wrote:
christopher::: wrote:A question for all of you, was there a pop culture model that influenced or inspired you when you were young?


Hi Chris

When I was a teenager, my heros were musicians. Mainly Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Cheers

Ben


Same here! I've always been especially drawn to the collaborative interactions of bands. The Beatles initially, then CSN&Y and the Grateful Dead. Dylan and Cohen stand apart as exemplary artists also, in terms of how they collaborated with words on paper, I think. Hendrix had an almost - errr-- can't find the word, but the relationship he had with his guitar was almost like it was a part of him, an extension of his body.

I've always been mystified by how compounded systems and creative relationships give greater depth to our world, bring all things into being.

Concerning the "master" teacher/student models-- were you ever drawn to Star Wars, the Matrix, Kung Fu, Lord of the Rings, Merlin & Arthur or any other pop culture or literature representation of teachers and students?

As a teen I was more drawn to the musicians as well, but i do remember being very impressed by Kung Fu when I was 11, 12 years old. Also the movie Little Big Man:: especially Old Lodge Skins, the Cheyanne grandfather...

Image
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Placid-pool » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:09 pm

The teacher / pupil question was very important in the Celtic tradition. To the point where the sons of noble families were always fostered out to other families to be trained - this helped build bonds between tribes and avoided wars. This is why Arthur was sent to live with Sir Ector - this was normal practice and why Bride is often portrayed as the foster mother of Jesus. The Celts, once introduced to Christianity could not believe that so noble a son would not have been fostered and obviously to a Celtic wise-woman.

It was also usual for a young warrior to go and seek at least a year's training in weapon's skills, often with a woman teacher. Cuchlain, the hound of Ulster fell in love with his teacher and fathered a child from her but once he had mastered several feats including the Salmon Leap on the magic bridge, he was sent away.
User avatar
Placid-pool
 
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby blossombreeze » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:07 pm

I agree about Celtic culture. It was very important to find a "Soul Friend" who was one's spiritual guide. There were female "Soul Friends" advising male chieftains - when this custom was transmitted to Rome, they passed a law that only males could advise males, and females could only advise females.

I can also name the Greek model of teacher/student. Also thinking of the Greek god/mortal human relationship, which closely parallels that of teacher/student. Here, deep love is involved. Plato is thought to have wanted to get rid of the "homoerotic" implications when describing the ideal "study" relationship, but it is accepted he did retain the idea of love as the only relationship where one knows what is best for the other, because of the inherent respect one has for the other. So masters and students were "in (Platonic) love" as the way to gain true insight. The purpose was to raise the student to the level of the master, and beyond (i.e. accept that the student had a greater potential, or that it was always a matter of cycles: today the master is me, tomorrow it will be you, and vice versa - what we all serve is that highest Ideal).

Now where Pop culture is concerned, sometimes it wants to portray one thing but it ends up gaining other overtones from our collective imagination and layers of experience.
blossombreeze
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:48 pm

Re: Teacher/Student Portrayals in Pop Culture

Postby Tex » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:37 pm

christopher::: wrote:Our modern pop cultural model of the "teacher" in school settings is kind of negative, and less focused on one-to-one interactions. My own sense is that modern culture actually discourages teachers and students from getting too close.



I completely agree.

You could use some examples like Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver and Morgan Freeman in Lean On Me, both based on true stories, and point out how much less frequently those types of movies come out compared to the one-on-one teacher-student stories that are so prevalent in all types of movie genres.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
User avatar
Tex
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA


Return to Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: greeneggsandsam and 4 guests