School of Rock (2003): Learning to be a Teacher from a Band Boy – Ulasinema

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School of Rock (2003): Learning to be a Teacher from a Band Boy


The role of a teacher in educating his students at school has, several times, been the theme of a film. Some interesting teacher-themed films to watch are films Dead Poets Society (1989), Dangerous Minds (1995), School of Rock (2003), and Freedom Writers (2007).

One film that I discuss in this article is School of Rock (2003). The teacher character in this film is different from the film I mentioned above. The teacher character in these films originally worked as a teacher. This is different from School of Rock (2003) whose main character is a boy band. He pretended to be his friend who applied for a teacher job at the school. In addition, this film does not have a serious nuance so that this film is categorized as a comedy film.

The existence of actor Jack Black in this film is a special attraction. As an actor, Jack Black has successfully acted in many films, such as High Fidelity (2000), King Kong (2005), Nacho Libre (2006), Bernie (2011), and Goosebumps (2015). in the movie Goosebumps, he also acts as a teacher. For movies School of Rock, Jack Black received nominations at six award shows and one Best Comedic Performance from the MTV Movie Award.

From Rockers Become a teacher

Being a teacher for some people is not an easy matter. With the exception of a Dewey Finn, rockers idealist expelled from his own group. In this film, Finn is challenged to adapt from a rockers who has a sloppy style to become an elementary school (SD) teacher.

Dewey Finn, played by Jack Black, is a vocalist and guitarist of a band that usually performs from cafe to cafe. Finn had to accept the fact that he was expelled from his own group because his idealism in music was not accepted by his colleagues.

In a state of unemployment, he accidentally received a call from a private elementary school. The call was for Ned Schneebly, Dewey’s roommate, who had applied as a substitute teacher at the school. Tempted by the salary as a substitute teacher, Dewey pretended to be Ned Schneebly and declared himself ready to teach.

What excited Dewey to teach was his intention to participate in a band festival in his local town. Dewey made his students a member and crew of the band that Dewey formed. Of course this was done secretly without the knowledge of the principal and parents of students.

In his interactions with the students for the band festival project, Dewey looks good at playing his role as a teacher. Dewey can explore the potential of his students in music that was previously underappreciated. He managed to form a band formation consisting of drummers, guitarists, bassist, keyboardist, and background singer. He himself acts as the main vocalist.

Not only band personnel, Dewey is also good at exploring the potential of other students as band crews. He trusts his students to handle various things, such as costumes, stage visual effects, security teams, and merchandise bands. Dewey seems to only give directions in the form of an outline and he leaves the rest to his students to be creative.

In his capacity as a musician, Dewey is described as mastering various musical instruments. During the rehearsal scene, he gave directions as well as practical examples of how to play an instrument or sing for each band member. As a band leader, he can also quickly draft a picture of the performance they will play on stage.

Dewey’s understanding of music is very strong. In one scene, Dewey assigns assignments to all the students through compact disc (CD) that he shared. He tells each student in what song the student should pay more attention to. Likewise when teaching music theory. Especially for this round, the visualization and background of the song are very interesting. Dewey is depicted giving music history material rock, then analyze via video of some of the performances of famous bands. This scene is accompanied by a snippet of The Ramones’ song “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg (My Brain is Hanging Upside Down)”.

As a musician, Dewey’s idealism is poured out in the group he formed. The idealism about music that was previously rejected by his colleagues while playing in a band, he instilled in the students in simple language and in an entertaining way so that his elementary school-aged students could understand him.

The role as a motivator is very prominent in Dewey’s capacity as a teacher. Zach, the student who was chosen as the guitarist, was initially less enthusiastic about performing because his parents were prohibited from playing guitar at home. With a distinctive style, Dewey can motivate Zach, even Zach can write a song which is then selected by Dewey to play at the band festival. As a form of gratitude, in one scene, Zach praises Dewey’s skill in practicing music in front of other teachers when Dewey gathers with his fellow teachers in the cafeteria.

There were also keyboard players who were described as “nerdy” students and lacked confidence in performing in public. However, he was motivated by Dewey and he said it in front of Dewey. Then, there was also a child who was originally chosen as the support team that took care of merchandise. The boy refused. The next day, because as class president, he did not deserve to occupy the position. Dewey then enlisted the boy as band manager and put his full trust in the boy to take care of things outside of music.

Equally interesting was when Dewey motivated one of his backing singers who was suddenly not confident before the audition due to weight problems. Dewey gives examples of singers as well as himself who is overweight, but has self-confidence.

Student Centered ala Dewey

My thinking as a teacher is the same as Dewey’s philosophy of teaching. Teaching pattern is not teacher centered, but student centered. Students are treated as study subjects. The teacher acts as a facilitator and not the only source of information. In this pattern, the teacher is not a lecturer who makes students only as passive listeners.

One of the basic competencies (KD) in class XI SMA is the subject of drama. I made a drama performance competition between classes. The number of classes per class is between 3-4 classes with the number of students per class between 15-20 people. I asked them to form a team consisting of a director, assistant director, scriptwriter, property, stage planner, and make up and costumes. The scripts that are staged are folk tales that are packaged in a contemporary way. The crew also acts as a cast, except for the director, assistant director, property coordinator, and stage planner.

My experience as a theater member at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) and being involved in several performances as a teenager became my capital in guiding students. The time interval from the formation of the team to the day of the performance I set for a month. In this project, I mentor all divisions from story ideas to script writing to practice days. However, I limit myself to not getting all my thoughts out. I give space to the children to express their thoughts and potential.

On the D day, before the performance, there are opening events, such as poetry musicals, modern dance, and pantomime. The event which I named “Bahana Sastra” was later used as an annual event at my current school. Due to the pandemic, practically this event has not been held since last year.

Back in the film School of Rock (2003), Dewey disguised himself as Ned Schneebly was exposed. However, due to their emotional connection with the students, they still follow the band festival in secret. The principal and parents knew about the action and they joined in watching their children’s performance. Because of his good performance, Dewey was finally trusted as a music extracurricular teacher with Ned Schneebly.

From this film, Dewey Finn not only has expertise as a musician, but also as a teacher who masters both theory and practice. He can also act as a motivator and generator of student potential with his unique style. The portrait of the teacher displayed by Dewey plays a very important role in the formation of the student’s character.

Also read: Rise of Empires: Ottoman (2020): Ambition of Power and the End of the Age of Fortress City

Author: Nalendra Satyatama
Editor: Anggino Tambunan

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