Adult education has had a renewed focus nowadays given the proliferation in technological tools. More adults are going back into classes to study as part of lifelong learning and therefore a need to have better ways of providing this education. However, adult education did not receive equal research as that of the childhood education in the past. Ultimately, the increase in the number of adults who are going back into classes to study has led to a renewed interest in the field of adult education. The film Monalisa’s Smile presents a number of lessons for adult learning and is therefore a good tool in teaching adults. This paper is a review of the film Monalisa’s Smile and seeks to analysis whether the film prevents a learning of a teaching paradigm.
Learning and teaching are activities that concurrently occur within a classroom setting. As such, each can influence the other. This means that a teacher can influence what the students learn and vice versa. Thus, Monalisa’s Smile provides an example of how teaching and learning can be influenced by each other. This paper is review on whether the film Monalisa’s smile depicts learning or teaching paradigm.
Students’ Behaviors Compared
Katherine’s students are conservative in accordance to the rules of their college. This is evident in memorizing of the syllabus when Katherine first arrives. However, she embarks on changing the perception of her students through her teaching of modern arts. In the end she manages to change the perception of female students towards issues of education and relationship. In one instance Katherine manages to convince one student, Julia Stiles, to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer by encouraging her to join Yale Law School. Nevertheless, Julia disappoints Katherine when she suddenly elopes with Topher Grace at the university and decides that all that she wants is to be a homemaker and invariably asks her teacher to respect her choice.
On the other hand, Kirsten Dunst is outspoken and conservative and therefore questions why Katherine is teaching about marriage when she is not married. Betty is thus critical of everything that the teacher tries to teach in class to the point of writing an editorial to condemn the teachings from Katherine.
In contrast, Maggie Gyllenhaal is liberal in her views and therefore supports the teaching since she believes that the teacher has the right to choose what she is teaching. In fact, she is liberal to the point of having an affair with her professor and another married man.
These views demonstrate the assumptions of the andragogical model. This is revealed when students decide on what to learn from their teacher. Additionally, as a number of them are obviously influenced by the teacher’s teaching style, others choose to pursue their internalized dreams. Even at the point when the teacher thinks that she has managed to change the perception of her students, one student who went to the Yale Law School decides that she wants to be married and become a wife, a social role against the teachings of her teacher.
According to Knowles, Holton & Swanson (2011), the role of the teacher in the adult learning is to expose the students to lessons, that students themselves might already be aware about, but which require a new analysis. The instance is the case of Julia Stiles, who had a childhood dream of becoming a lawyer, so the teacher encourages her to join the law school. Nevertheless, Julia Stiles changes her mind that all she wants is to become a wife and actually ends up eloping with her fiancé.
The role of teacher is also to act as a role model to the students. That is, the teacher should believe and act according to what he/she is teaching. In case of Katherine, she seems to be inconsistent with her teachings and actions. For instance, she engages in an affair with a fellow teacher despite the fact that she does not believe in relationships and girls becoming wives. Her actions turn out to be erratic and opposed to what she expects her students to learn. However, she manages to influence the perception of some of her students and in the end we find her followed as a role model by some of her students.
In the film Monalisa’s Smile the teaching institution is conservative in its teachings as the teacher is expected to follow up to the laid down procedures without introducing new knowledge. In fact, this factor brings Katherine into trouble because when she finds that her students have mastered the syllabus, she opts to teach them modern arts. The teacher exudes characteristics of self-awareness, independence and outgoing. This is because even when the school administration warns her over her teaching style she does not conform to what the school wants but instead opts to leave. However, because her course is popular in school, she is called back to the school. In my opinion, the school and the teacher were in conflict because as the school insisted on the conservative education, the teacher wanted to be modern and contemporary in her exposition. This conflict escalates to the point of the teacher being removed from school. Later, when she was recalled, the school is forced to change its rules concerning the syllabus that the students learn.
Billings & Halstead (2009) argue that adult learning is completely different from childhood learning in the sense that the former is discursive and judgmental while the latter is instructive. Children solely depend on the teacher as the source of information and this information is believed to be the gospel truth. Concerning the educational environment in the movie, I would embrace discussion with students on issues that are taught in class and provide them with a channel for making personal decisions over what they learn.
As such, educational environment in the adult classes ought to be open and avoid making judgments over what the students should do or not do. This will ensure that the teacher is not judged as to teaching lessons, which himself or herself does not even believe in as it is in the case with teacher Katherine in the movie. In the end, a discursive class will promote learning in adult education because every student will believe that she or he can bring new information in the class and this will encourage learning.
In conclusion, Monalisa’s Smile film provides insightful lessons in teaching the adult classes by revealing the characteristics of institutions and teachers that influence the way adult students learn.