Analysis of Mr. Holland’s Opus

The movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, is a good example of how a teacher grows by learning from his own successes and failures.  Not only did he grow from the mistakes that he made at school, but also those he made at home. His experiences taught him to develop a good balance between family and career — something every teacher must  learn because teaching requires such dedication.

Mr. Holland needed a vision or idea where he wanted to lead his students.  His first day began with the usual nervousness and somewhat bewilderment that assaults anyone on a new job. However, he lacked a  long-term vision which would have given him an immediate focus and desire to dedicate himself to leading his students.

Mr. Holland  had to learn how his teaching methods affected the student’s responses.  If he had begun his class with something light and fun instead of diving into technical language that the pupils knew nothing about, he would have established himself as a friend and not just someone trying to shove knowledge down their throats.

When he grew from his experiences, he discovered that  teaching isn’t just a nine to five job, but one that requires a person who puts themselves into the students, much as he did into his own music.  When Mr. Holland learned to place himself and his love for music into the students, they learned to love him and music.  As Principal  Jacobs put it, “You must fill young minds with knowledge as well as being a compass to show them where to take that knowledge.”

As he continued teaching, Mr. Holland learned not to treat the students as “impossible” but as an audience with whom he needed to communicate.  When frustration surfaced, he became irate about their tests and began mocking  the students.  This caused the students to be discouraged and unwilling to learn. He found that when he changed his approach  of teaching to their  level, using some of their style  preferences, he was able to get a response that gave him personal satisfaction that his students were learning.  The students began to actually enjoy his class and eagerly took part.   An example of this is Gertrude Lang, who struggled with playing the clarinet but who, with Mr. Holland’s encouragement, began to play with a new joy and success.

While teaching students one-on-one is very important, Mr. Holland learned that one must be careful how his tutoring comes across to the pupil.  In the situation with Rowena, he developed too much of a relationship with her which had potential of ruining his life, that of his family and Rowena’s as well.  Teachers must be wary of how they councel their students and the conclusions they may make.

During a lot of his career,  Mr. Holland had all but forgotten about his own family because they were not what he had hoped for them to be.  He was learning about the balance which is needed in everyone’s life between work and family, but especially when your job requires as much dedication as teaching does.

When the students saw that Mr. Holland was giving of himself they gave of themselves.  As it says in Luke 6:40, the students will do what their teacher does.  When students saw his example of how he loved music and that he had learned to love them,  they responded by trying to please him..

From this movie I learned how I respond to the students is very important and will reflect in the way that they respond to me.  In Luke 2:46 the teachers took time to interact with the boy Jesus, asking and trying to answer His questions.  I need to follow that example and be sure to take the time to listen to what the students have to say.

The culmination of one’s life work is not merely how much you have accomplished but how many lives you have touched.

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