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Title: Learning to be “good enough” : Hollywood's role in standardizing knowledge and the myth of meritocracy
Authors: Glick, Stephanie
Dean, Allyson
Keywords: Motion pictures -- Criticism and interpretation
Education and state -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Education in motion pictures -- United States
Educational equalization -- United States
Marginality, Social -- United States
Indigenous peoples -- Education
Issue Date: 2020-06
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Education
Citation: Glick, S., & Dean, A. (2020). Learning to be “good enough” : Hollywood's role in standardizing knowledge and the myth of meritocracy. Postcolonial Directions in Education, 9(1), 43-87.
Abstract: Written for teacher educators and pre-service teachers, we analyze education-themed Hollywood blockbusters Stand and Deliver (Musca, 1988) and Dangerous Minds (Bruckheimer & Simpson, 1995) that were released alongside neo-liberal, classist, racist U.S. education policies of the 1980s and 1990s. We posit that these films boosted mainstream acceptance of the standardized testing industry and thus, the myth of meritocracy. In addition to featuring harmful narratives about racially, culturally, and economically marginalized students, the pictures promote high-stakes testing rather than interrogating the industry’s reliance on marginalized students to “fail” tests so that centered or privileged students have a standard for measuring “success.” We argue that the films continue to influence dominant national attitudes because the film narratives are often passed down intergenerationally from teacher to pre-service teacher. Countering these messages, we analyze a third feature length film, Whale Rider (Barnett, Hübner, & Sanders, 2002), for its dedication to positive (not utopian) depictions of Māori epistemologies. Created outside of Hollywood’s financial grip, this picture illustrates how film has the power to expand thinking on the value of Other ways of knowing. Simultaneously, we problematize the picture for its absence of address of colonial oppression.
Appears in Collections:PDE, Volume 9, No. 1
PDE, Volume 9, No. 1

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