Here Comes the Boom

The movie, “Here Comes the Boom” provided a pleasant surprise as I watched this week.  Kevin James plays a school teacher, Voss, who takes up ring fighting.  His mission is to raise money to save the job of a music teacher whose program is set to be cut.  James’ character does not start as a noble teacher but a worn down, sub-standard teacher who is late, barely tends his classes, and tries to get out of duties.  The story that develops is while he is inspired by this music teacher, it rekindles his own passion and he begins to instill passion in others as well.  There were a few poignant quotes. 

The school nurse character says to Voss, “I don’t know how [our school] got so off track.” Voss replies, “It’s not our fault, it’s the system.”  The nurse retorts, “So it’s the system that’s creating teachers who just don’t care?”  Voss sighs, “You know the deal, we can’t speed up to help the gifted kids, can’t slow down to help the slower ones.  It’s about moving cattle through, you know, it’s a numbers game.”  To which the nurse replies, “That’s what they want but what about you?”  Voss says, “There was a time when [I cared and got excited…].”

This scene touches on a truth.  In recent years, education has focused so squarely on growth and testing to ensure every child is the same that it has fostered the mentioned “numbers game” and “cattle” metaphor.  Teachers feel the pressure to practice tests to the point that, for so many, it has quenched their passion.

Passion is the most important ingredient in teaching.  Without passion teachers don’t enjoy their work and students become apathetic to learning; they see no reason in it. 

Later in the movie as Voss is finding success and rekindling his passion he is speaking to his brother.  Voss says to his brother, who is working at a job he doesn’t enjoy,

“You’ve got to go after your dreams; you’ve got to find your passion and then let it guide you.”

Finally, at the end when faced with losing a match (and not earning the money for the teacher’s salary) with his students watching, the music teacher tells Voss that it is alright to give up because,

“Our students are witnessing complete resolve in the face of an unbearable obstacle, they are invested.  They are inspired, that’s what we’re supposed to do as teachers, right?  Inspire.”

In order for teachers to inspire students they must have enough autonomy to be able to share their passion.  Too often teachers are forced to pace with other teachers using cookie cutter lessons or use plans that are all about the numbers rather than hands on creative, and practical methods they would prefer.  If students learned from this type of environment there would be no need for a person in the room, particularly a well educated one. 

This was not the best movie I have seen but it certainly had some thoughtful moments for anyone concerned about the education of our children.