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ERIC Number: EJ826826
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
Encounters with Insignificance in Teaching and Learning: Gus Van Sant's "Elephant"
Sandlos, Karyn
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v31 n1 p55-73 Jan 2009
This article explores how a curriculum of film becomes organized by the teacher's worries about what film may open up in class. The author focuses on her own worries about showing Gus Van Sant's (2003) film, "Elephant," an elliptical and dreamlike study of the murders in 1999 of twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School, to a class of teacher candidates. The course, entitled "The Adolescent and the Teacher," was designed to explore theories of adolescent development and representations of adolescent experience. By refusing to explain the Columbine murders or suggest how the lessons of the past may become a prophylactic against future repetitions, the author hoped that the film would help students to think about school violence outside of the usual discourses of safety and prevention. The author's reading of "Elephant" focuses on three dimensions of time: the ethnographic present of representation (the details and rhythms of an ordinary day at high school), the uncanny (the role of repetition and anxiety in the narrative), and the possibility of reparative reading (a belated study of the nature of perception). Close attention is paid to how the troubling history recounted in the film and the problem of engaging in a reading of the film come into conflict. This article raises some dilemmas of staging encounters with representations of social violence in teacher education: the teacher's anxiety, the pedagogical problem of insignificance, and the aesthetic possibilities of repairing meaning. As teachers begin to understand how their anxiety is telegraphed through curriculum, they may then learn to read students' responses to curricular texts, and their own responses, as aesthetic representations of the self. (Contains 6 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A