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Images of Teachers in Popular Culture

Images of teachers abound in popular culture—from Washington Irving's early nineteenth-century novel of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane to contemporary genres of adult and children's literature, film, television, cartoons, and song lyrics. Positioned in a variety of school settings—public, private, and parochial; secondary and elementary; poor urban and affluent suburban—teacher images vary widely.

From the hideous to the ridiculous to the noble, portrayals include children-hating ogres, quivering milquetoasts, and self-sacrificing crusaders battling for the lives and souls of their pupils. Images of teachers who stifle, oppose, bore, and abuse are juxtaposed with those who inspire, advocate for, stimulate, and nurture children. As well, more complex characterizations exist that cast some light on teachers' identities and experiences—despite a dearth of images illuminating teachers' personal lives, intellectual interests, or existential ...

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