This weekend Adrian Brody’s movie, Detachment opened in New York. The movie slatted to roll open across the country is a movie about the American Education system and two of its major players – teachers and students. Set in an urban High School in a hard neighborhood, the movie claims to show the real battle brewing in American Education through the lives of both the teachers and the students and the struggle between detaching and attaching to the person behind the role.
This is not Hollywood’s first time depicting the difficult world of the inner city school system. How can anybody forget Michele Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds trying to get “hardened” students to dissect Dylan Thomas poems as they balance her assignments and running a gang. Or Hillary Swank portraying Erin Gruwell as she turned a class of students from apathetic to vested in their learning with a marble notebook.
Both these films got the Hollywood treatment, but Detachment looks different. As an inner city school teacher for the better part of the last decade, there is no question that I have been caught in the same web of emotion with my own students over the years, wondering what else I could have done to save them, if my efforts to try to give them something more were enough.
Its hard not to start to feel for students who should be focused on being a kid and not facing the ever difficult adult world at the age of 7. But all to often that is what inner city school teachers are faced with and the older the students get the more the apathy sets in, turning the task of teaching into a battle.
While I haven’t seen the movie yet – it does seem that for the first time in a long time Hollywood chose to focus on a real issue in urban education, using the same emotions that real inner city teachers experience. Maybe for once a film will be real and gritty rather than fake and overdone. You will all be the first to know when I get a chance to see it