Education Opinion

Listen to Me!

By Susan Graham — December 28, 2010 2 min read
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One of the great luxuries of Winter Break is the time to do things like going to the movies in the middle of a weekday. Today I indulged in a matinee showing of The King’s Speech, a dramatization of the relationship between King George VI and Lionel Logue, his speech therapist. It’S a great movie and now a front runner for the Oscar.

Set in the years preceding WWII, Colin Firth plays the Duke of York who, when his brother Edward abdicates, becomes a reluctant King George VI of England. Geoffrey Rush is the unconventional, Australian-born, self-taught speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helps the King overcome the stutter that has plagued him since childhood. In the end, King George manages to stretch beyond his own limitations to reassure his subjects through his radio broadcast as Great Britain enters the war.

Maybe it was because I had spent the morning reading entries for a National Board Candidate and walking her through reflection on her own practice, but even in the cocooning dark of a movie theater, I found I couldn’t stop thinking like a teacher.
So here are some teacherly reflections on great lines from what is likely to be the most acclaimed movie of the year:

Logue to the Duchess of York: "I can cure your husband, but I need his total trust."

I wondered: How much has the recent frenzy of teacher bashing undermined relationships among educators and the larger community? In the light of so much negative press, how can teachers convince at-risk learners and their anxious parents to trust us?

Princess Elizabeth (while viewing a newsreel of Hitler): "What does he say?" King George: "I don't know, but he seems to be saying it very well."

I thought: Maybe this why people like the former Chancellor of DC get so much press. In her latest Newsweek diatribe promoting her new organization Students First, she uses “children” five times, “students” five times, “kids” five times, “Fenty” five times, and “I” fifty-four times. She doesn’t seem to have much to say about anything but herself, so I can only presume she gets press attention because she says “I” so very well and very loud!

King George to Lionel Logue: "Listen to me! Listen to me!" Logue: "Why should I waste my time listening to you?" King George; "Because I have a voice!"

In this dramatization, as a second son, George had been carefully taught to know his place and hold his tongue. But Logue realized that he could overcome his halting speech when he got mad enough to forget to be self conscious, so he ignored a king until the King claimed the authority he deserved and demanded to be heard. Is there a lesson for us as teachers here? Isn’t the education of children important enough to move us beyond worrying what other people think?

King George to Logue: If you are waiting for an apology from a king, you may find you have a long wait.

Maybe teachers have thought that if we were polite enough and we waited long enough, stakeholders would eventually apologize and give respectful attention to the teacher perspective on school reform. We do seem to be having a long wait.

Maybe it’s time to say “Listen to me! Because I have a voice!”

Image: J.Star on Flickr

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.