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Dead Poet's Society - an analysis

            In the film, Dead Poet's Society by director Peter Weir, we explore the concepts of Tradition, Honour, Discipline and Excellence, through the range of students and staff at Welton Boys Academy in the 1950s. The film demonstrates the contrasting educational views of Welton Academy and the English teacher, John Keating. Welton endorse students to achieve their best academic abilities in order to be accepted by society; the school manipulates students through physical, mental and emotional intimidation. In contrast, John Keating encourages students to find their individual paths in life, to follow their hearts and fight conformity and the expectations of society.
             Welton define tradition as honouring the beliefs and values of previous generations, to maintain a safe and submissive society, which does not question previous decisions. Welton believe that this tradition will instil respect and uphold a respectable reputation and status in society. An example of this is evident when Mr. Nolan, the school principal says to John Keating; "the curriculum here is set; it has been proven it works. If you question it, then what's to stop them doing the same?" Keating replies; "I always thought the point of education was to think for yourself" and Mr. Nolan says; "At this age not on your life Tradition John, Discipline." Welton believes that its conservative and safe curriculum will make these students into acceptable adults. Welton believes that the students are too young to make their own decisions so they try to convince the students that their parents and the school know what is best for them. Nolan says; "Tradition Discipline" meaning that the students should uphold previous traditions but if students keep following the previous generations unquestioningly they will be perpetuating the same mistakes rather than taking responsibility and learning from their mistakes. Welton's beliefs repress the boys" personal growth because the boys are encouraged to achieve conformist acceptance from society rather than find their own individual paths in life.

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