Seeds of violence

Image: Oloruntoba John
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By FRANCISCO DE OLIVEIRA BARROS JUNIOR*

When will a teacher have the salary of a deputy and the prestige of a football player?

1.

Teachers, in the school context, provide experiences to be filmed. Colleges and schools set narratives in the history of cinema. Human relationships, in the context of teaching, are revealed through cinematographic lenses. At different historical moments, school institutions present their complexities, consensuses and tensions. They are socializing fields in which the different facets of their subjects are revealed. The years pass and some issues remain present in everyday school life.

On the screen we see Seeds of violence (1955), directed by Richard Brooks. Focusing on a specific school institution, the film begins with an explanation of the justification and meaning behind its creation. Let's look at the introductory speech of the focused film text: “In the USA we are fortunate to have an education system that is a tribute to our communities and our faith in American youth. Today, we are concerned about juvenile delinquency, its causes and effects. We are especially concerned when this delinquency reaches schools. The scenes and incidents shown here are fictitious. However, we believe that public awareness is the first step to remedying any problem. It was with this spirit and this faith that we carried out Seeds of violence".

Films transmit propagandistic and ideological content, hence the importance of reading them critically. These are products with political implications and are linked to different interests. From “fiction”, we start to reflect on our everyday scenarios. The precarious salary conditions of education workers show the professional devaluation of educators. Professionals who carry out work of unquestionable social relevance, but this is not valued from a salary point of view.

By pluralizing the word violence, we broaden the view of the various manifestations of violence. Among these, the precarious salaries paid to undervalued teachers. Professor Richard Dadier subjects his salary dissatisfaction. In Seeds of violence, he expresses his discomfort at the financial neglect of his work: “…Who cares about teachers? …Teachers make $2 an hour, don’t they? …A congressman and a judge earn $9,25 per hour. Police and firefighters, $2,75. Carpenters, 2,81. Plumbers, $2,97. Drywall Installers, $3,21. A cook earns more money than us, in addition to housing and food. Yes, I know, a teacher earns the same as a babysitter or a store clerk. Two dollars an hour for a teacher.”

 With 12 years of activity at the educational establishment where Richard Dadier is new, one of his colleagues reveals: “Two decorations and no salary increase”. In one of the WhatsApp groups, I read a message from a teacher, in which two owls emit pearls: “Professor, we wish you a deputy's salary…”, says one of them. The other adds: “…and the prestige of a football player!”

Films, in particular, demand critical readings. They are crossed by political-ideological interests. In the classroom, we use film texts from different cinematic trends to work on sociological concepts. I highlight the concept of ideology, in the Marxist conception. Some works mask facts and events, serving those in power.

The ideological apparatuses of the State, including art and education, serve the interests of the ruling classes. Ideology conceptualized as the concealment of social reality. In this context of domination, cinema can be manipulated to serve the dominators. Here is a key to film reading, among others. A film is a work open to analysis from multiple perspectives. In the “anatomy of time”, dissected by the “secret language of cinema”, we project an objective: “to use the film from a sociological point of view” (CARRIÈRE, 2014, p.131).

Em Seeds of violence, school discipline is challenged by constant tension between educators and students. A hostile climate of disputes and harshness hinders the pedagogical relationship. Youth gangs in conflict take their confusion and settling of scores into the school, attended by boys. In a noisy, tumultuous place, teachers, in conversations with each other, express their concerns and unrest. What to do to stimulate them? How to draw their attention to the content taught? Bring music to math class? Visual arts to generate debates and raise awareness of artistic languages?

Questions fired from the vision of Seeds of violence. Historical times change, with their progress and regressions. In today's networked society, its virtualities and typing carry fascinations and terrors. Cell phones accompany students in classrooms. In the company of technological advances, we inquire about the new manifestations of violence in today's school spaces. From the imagery provocations of an artistic work, we bring questions to think about the “seeds of violence” spread in the school fields of our harsh and barbaric days. The delicacy of poetic time demands oxygenation.

 When selecting the film repertoire, we chose works with reflective potential. Violence in daily school life has different faces. Subtle or strident, they demand confrontation. Bullying, various prejudices, physical attacks, harassment and other rudeness are part of high school shows. Yesterday and today, in public and private spaces, they affect teachers, students, employees and educational directors. Violent actions reflect the socioeconomic and emotional conditions experienced by our students. What are the multiple factors, external and internal to the school, that generate violent practices? We become violent. Violence is socially constructed and provoked by various causes.

Em Seeds of violence, Richard Dadier, English teacher, will work in a space in which students are seen as “delinquents”, occupying a “trash can of the educational system”. Let's reflect on the deep and complex roots of delinquency seen? Who are responsible for their demonstrations? To reflect on such questions, the teacher who teaches mathematical operations will need sociological theories and think about them along the lines of “Rock Around The Clock”, with Bill Haley and his comets.

2.

Teacher Josh reveals that he is disappointed with the indiscipline of his students. In conversation with Richard Dadier, one of his teaching colleagues, he expresses his pedagogical disappointment: “So why don't they let me teach?” An unsettling question in the crossing of historical times in daily school life and which still worries education workers today. The cinematic trip was promoted by the film Seeds of violence.

The question previously formulated reaches the year 2023 and resonates with educators and their pedagogical concerns. These live in another historical context, in the “information age”, of “social transformation in the network society”. “Multidimensional and structural change”, in a confusing, agonizing, uncertain and troubled time. Paradoxes and ambivalences of “the planet of global networks”, with its advances and setbacks (CASTELLS, 1999). With the “digital revolution”, transformed sociability, “virtual communities” and the “new economy” of “electronic business”, we inhabit “the internet galaxy” (CASTELLS, 2003). In the internet “social reality of virtuality”, the act of teaching is impacted and raises questions about how to teach under an internet government.

In a scenario of lights and darkness, we teach our current classes and update the teacher concerns of educator Josh Edwards. This, with the motivational objective of getting students' attention, proposes the use of music in the classroom: “I'm going to bring my record collection and I'll play them for them, in class”. Dialogical pedagogical imagination, proposing to break down barriers that separate different fields of knowledge. In the methodological foundation, he argues: “…music is based on mathematics”. In his repertoire, “Invention for guitar and trumpet, with Stan Kenton and his orchestra"and "The jazz me blues”, in the tones of Bix Beiderbecke and his gang. Musicians think, reason and speculate, in particular, about “human passions”. Not limited “to the practice of notes and certain displays of singing”, they follow the ancient musician Orpheus, located among “the ancient musicians” who “were poets, philosophers, orators of the first order” (ROUSSEAU, 2021, p.125).

How to use the arts in school spaces? As motivating powers, they help professor Richard Dadier to solve his interest in reaching out to students, to touch them so that he is able to develop his educational work. Aware of “visual education”, he takes film images to get closer to his students. Insistent and without losing motivation, he subjectiveizes his hope: “there must be some way to… there must be a way to reach them”. And it arrived through the screening of a film, followed by a debate about the film content shown.

*Francisco de Oliveira Barros Junior He is a professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI).

References


CARRIÈRE, Jean-Claude. The Secret Language of Cinema. Rio de Janeiro: New Frontier, 2014.

CASTELLS, Manuel. The network society: The information age: economy, society and culture; vol.1. São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1999.

CASTELLS, Manuel. The Internet Galaxy: reflections on the internet, business and society. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2003.

ROUSSEAU, Jean-Jacques. music dictionary. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2021.


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