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Activity: Film Critic and Reflection

Course: 02PROFED06
The Teacher and the School Curriculum

CEDRO, Joreene P.
II-1 BEE
Film: The Teacher’s Diary

Synopsis
The film started with Bann Gaeng Wittaya, a main school in Thailand. A principal was
interviewing Mister Song. He was insisting to teach even if the principal did not find him
suitable for the job because he was a former wrestler. He wanted to teach physical
education, but the position was already filled. He then told the principal that being a
teaching assistant would be enough. The principal agreed, only that Mister Song should
know how to swim. Flashing back the past, Miss Ann is kind of a hard-headed teacher
who disagrees with the principal with removing her tattoo to be hired in the main school.
The only option would be sending her to the houseboat branch of the main school in Mae
Ping dam. It was in year 2011, when she arrived in the branch with her bestfriend and
colleague, Miss Gigi. She got to talk with some residents in the province and they were
very approachable. The houseboat school had only seven students in consecutive grades,
so Ann and Gigi had just decided to divide the class into the younger and older ones.
Students go home during Fridays. The teacher teaches, cooks and takes care of them
during weekdays and he can go home during Fridays. Despite the rash due to an allergic
reaction to water, Ann stayed. She barely knows how to swim and there were
environmental difficulties yet insisted and just taught. She even argued with Nui, her
boyfriend, with regards to teaching four to seven students. He questioned her if it was
really worth all the effort. Gigi had to leave also because she cannot endure anymore the
issues in the houseboat. Ann stayed anyway because she knew that the principal will
close the houseboat branch if no one will teach there. In teaching, she uses scaffolding,
showing a student’s zone of proximal development. She was seen to have big dreams for
her students.
It was in year 2012, the present time and an assistant teacher named Song saw a
diary. By that time, he found his four students very difficult to handle. Finding them so
playful with the things that interest them, he beats or punishes them. The youngest
student then mentioned that Ann never hits them. Sometime later, Song broke up with
his girlfriend and ended up reading Ann’s diary. Changes started as he came to realize
that Ann had situations like his, being a first timer in the place and just right in time,
had her first
heartbreak with her boyfriend. The diary helped him in ways that changed his life and
views on children. Song learned how to handle the students and they eventually became
in good terms with him. The first semester final exam came, and the student were still
seen to have difficulties in it, some annoyed. The results of the exam were not good that
the principal had to talk with Song. If the second semester scores did not improve, the
principal cannot renew his contract anymore. Song asked the principal about where they
can find Ann. He came to know that Ann transferred to teach with his boyfriend in Chiang
Mai and is getting married. He kept the diary and went to find Ann in Mon Fah school in
the city where she teaches. She found her but did not talk to her. Nui was once an
assistant principal that he needed to suspend Ann one time due to disobeying a seemingly
unjust school policy. This is the point where Ann had the courage to express everything
to Nui. She asked him how much more does she need to change for him to be satisfied.
She told him honestly that she felt out of place and if she has to choose again, she would
rather teach in the houseboat school.
It was on March 2013 when Ann talked to the principal in Bann Gaeng Wittaya about
teaching in the houseboat again. The children were very pleased to see her. It was
obvious that they miss her very much, being gone for one year. The film showed that in
the days where Ann was heartbroken with Nui, Song imitated what she did to move on
after reading the diary. For the past six months, Song’s life was all about the students,
the school, the river and...thinking of Ann. In the diary, Song said that he never thought
of being a teacher. At the start, life was full of hardships and luckily, he found Ann’s diary.
It has been a very helpful guide. It helped him understand that to live in the houseboat,
they must be more than teachers. He wrote that he was never good at school and it was
probably because he does not understand children better, that they like experiences. It
was almost time for finals and the children are now putting more than a hundred percent
of their hearts into it. On the day of exams, everyone passed except for one. What was
tear-jerking in the movie was the moment when Chon cried to Song, saying that he could
do it but he ran out of time. Sometime later, Song resigned to go back to school and
study more. Ann saw her diary again in the present time and was seemingly teary-eyed
on what has newly written in it. She tried to find Song, but he was not living anymore in
the address he had in his curriculum vitae. One day, it was known that he will come by
school break and Ann was really excited. A boat is coming, and she was more than excited
only to find out that it was Nui who came, asking her to go back to Chiang Mai with him.
Yes, he came with Nui. Packed up, she hugged the students and bade goodbye. Still
expecting to see Song along the way, she always glances around. Before she left, she
had written something in her diary, she thanked Song for helping her look back and
remember why she became a teacher in the first place.
Holding and reading the diary while going home with Nui, Ann came to realize many
things. She told Nui a story about a teacher who taught at the houseboat while she was
not around. She commended him for solving a math problem through letting one child
experience what it feels like to be in a train. Ann said that this student knows the answer
in a problem but did not finish an exam on time. Nui reasoned that only if Song took the
time on discussion more than the experience, the student might have passed the
examination. His reason contrasted Ann’s, as for her, at least the student finally got to
know a train. Nui had totally different view. He obviously did not understand why Ann
had to differ on views like this. She then told Nui that it was because they have never
really understood each other. Ann came back to the houseboat, but a fisherwoman said
that everyone in the houseboat probably went home already. As Ann decides to leave,
the houseboat was suddenly lit up. She immediately went inside.

Analysis
The Thailandese film is an inspirational teacher tale. It is romantic, comedic in ways
through one of the main casts, Sukrit Wisetkaew. He was appealing in portraying Mister
Song. The way Song becomes interested with Ann after reading the diary is sweet and
moving because he consistently conveys pure intentions without having that creepy
stalking manners. The film was not cliché. Most of the romances tend to go like: Boy
meets a girl then the infatuation grows into mutual toleration and later affection then
there is a misunderstanding and they break up then go back together again and stay that
way. But in the movie, the lead roles spend pretty much time being apart from each other
and the affection grows from there.
The film was a school drama and a self-motivation as well. Laila Boonyasak brought an
inspiring assertiveness on the part of Ann. Living and teaching in the houseboat branch
was never easy, but Miss Ann chose to stay. She was a passionate educator who favored
experiences more than repeated memorizations. The timely, various struggles of a
teacher that goes far beyond the classroom were shown in the film. It has also depicted
the reality of seemingly abandoned and lacking school facilities that is very common in
rural communities.
The children who acted as students in the film were commendable. Their difficult life
backgrounds will capture the hearts of those who are fortunate enough to study and can
travel conveniently.
The cinematography highlighted a place far from the crowd. The places covered had
greener surroundings, filled with mountains and has pretty sunsets. With these, the
physicality of the film was beautiful to look at to.
The educational system in main schools was primarily based on idealism where there was
a traditional system of recalling ideas. This was evident in the arguments of Miss Ann
with regards to rote or repeated memorization. She even fell an argument with Nui upon
hearing that lecturing is more important than experience, showing a perennialism
manner. The classroom will always be teacher-centered and according to her, this is not
the basis of understanding. The curriculum was seemingly hierarchical because the
teaching methods are fixed, it do not vary. The interesting part is that the institution is
realist in nature, as they conform to school policies and student safety. Proper etiquette
of teachers did matter to the principals, both in the city and the province.
In the houseboat in the province, experimentalism or progressivism was evident with Miss
Ann and Mister Song’s method of teaching. There was a time in the movie when Ann
commended him Song for solving a math problem through letting a child experience what
it feels like to be on a train through pulling off the houseboat. It can be inferred that
learning occurs as the person engages in problem solving through an experience. This
can be transferable to a wide variety of subjects and situations. Learning can be effective
if a child interacts with the physical and social environment.
Miss Ann has big dreams for her students, and it is shown through questioning Chon, a
student who wanted to be a fisherman like his father because it was the tradition in his
family. But because she knew she cannot dictate a child with regards to his ambition, she
let the child decide if he will still study or not. Miss Ann still values her students’ choices.
The aspects of the movie that impacted my insights in relation to the course are the
extrinsic factors that hinders the abilities and growth of a student. It was said that the
school is far from homes that the students do not know that a teacher has arrived. From
the geographical challenges like this, a teacher has to be creative and be extra dedicated
so that students can view school as something exciting and meaningful, not forceful and
stressful. Most of the time, I had to agree with the view that a child can do tasks
effectively if his or her personal needs are recognized and if provided in the first place.

Review/Reflection
Being a teacher was never easy and the real difficulties go far beyond classrooms, indeed.
It can be of various aspects and I salute the film for being so timely and realistic also
with regards to relationships. These can revolve around partners, students and
colleagues. The film is definitely a must-watch for all kinds of people, teaching or not.
In transferring the reflections I gained in my own context to an English matter, I will still
be a realist in a way. For me, proper discipline is a major thing because it tells everything
about a person. With this, a student needs to conform with essential Filipino traditions
and policies also with regards to discipline. He or she then knows that I value safety
among all.
Experimentalism or progressivism would be evident in my English class. This will be a
greatest guide in assisting my students when they have difficulties. I strongly believe that
learning occurs as the person engages in problem solving through an experience, as
emphasized more in the entirety of the film. This I believe, can be an effective transfer
of learning.
The film reminded me in a funny way that in introducing myself as a teacher, I should
use creative and striking gestures so children can remember me better. There is no
problem with mixing silliness in discussions as long as I know the limit.
Finally, I will keep in my heart today the line of Miss Ann saying, “From this day forward,
even though I must teach by myself, I will do my best to teach them.”