Once one of my students said to me, "Now I have a dream to be an actor, but I have had a hard time since I had this dream. I could just enjoy my life when I didn't have the dream." It is true. Once we have a dream, we realize that there is a big gap between ourselves and our dreams and it seems impossible to fill in the gap. He had commuted to a training school for actors in Tokyo every weekend. To save money for traveling expenses to go to Tokyo he was with working part-time. As a result, he was so exhausted and on top of that, his grades were becoming worse and worse. He was at a loss if what he was doing is right or not.
The boy, Neil in this movie reminded me of this student. Both of them were undergoing a crisis and experiencing discomfort to realize their dreams. How can we teachers help these students go through the crisis? As Amanda said, we have to be careful when we help them overcome the crisis. If they cannot find a way they should go, they cannot resolve their discomfort and it may lead to distrust, disappointment toward teachers, parents, their society or themselves.
Students are facing very complex and severe reality. When they are struggling the gap between their dreams and reality, teachers may have to teach them how to reach the compromise between the reality and their dream. This may sounds hopeless especially to teenagers. However, accepting reality is one of the ways to find the way to get out of the crisis. When my student said to me, "If I cannot become an actor, all my efforts will come to nothing, and I will be the same as the students who didn't make any effort", I said "I think you won't be the same. Whenever you are working hard to realize your dream, you will find a way which will better suit you, even if the way is not the one you originally wanted to choose." This may be the same what Nicole said "to guide students in a balanced way". Also, we have to know our limitations. We can give our students advice and help, but it is students who make a choice.

The movie is about a teacher who tries to arouse his students to be "free". When I first watched The Dead Poets Society, I was so touched by Mr. Keating, the amazing teacher who tried to arouse his students' awareness of breakthrough and being free. The students' experiences are so familiar with me that I shall count them as a personal favor. But when I was pondering the scenes in this movie from the perspective of a "teacher", I found it hard to evaluate Mr. Keating's job in the school. He showed his profound knowledge on poetry; and he expressed his care to his students--he possessed two necessary conditions as a teacher but he acted more as a spiritual mentor rather than a responsible instructor.
Actually I love his instruction which will definitely lead students to "enjoy" literature and arts, not teach them how to analyse a poem word by word, line by line just like figuring out math problems. And at the same time, he also led students into crisis which made some of them uncomfortable. The process of being confronted with the crisis is significant for students, just as Kumashiro (2009) argues, "if students are not experiencing crisis, they likely are not learning things that challenge the knowledge they have already learned that supports the status quo, which means that they likely are not learning to recognize and challenge the oppression that plays out daily in their lives." But the results of encountering crisis might be difficult to bear. In this movie, Mr. Keating hardly thought about teaching students to deal with their uncomfortable feelings. However, "when students are in a state of crisis, teachers need to structure experiences that can help students to work through it...Different students experience crisis differently. ..what may help one student to work through crisis may not similarly help another." (Kumashiro, 2009, p. 31) As a result, most of his students were "reborn" to rethink about their future but one of them chose to kill himself as a way to fight against his parents.
I am not saying that the tragedy was caused by Mr. Keating; I am just concerning on what are a teacher's responsibilities. Personally speaking, the behavior that Mr. Keating encouraged students to submit to their interests such as acting in a play is also a kind of interference in parents' expectation and also students' personal life plan. Perhaps it is a cultural issue--Chinese children generally take parents' opinions into consideration when they make important decisions, that goes without saying. So I wonder that Mr. Keating exceeded his authority--Teachers need to create challenges for students to help them make progress in learning, but not to make troubles to their current lives. Mr. Keating should make a balance between his instruction and students status, and help students to make a balance between their dreams and the realities. "Challenging oppression requires addressing the broader social context in which we live." (Kumashiro, 2009, p. 28) Teachers just need to be more cautious when we lead students into crisis.
Kevin K. Kumashiro (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO

It is seen in the movie that the students suffered from standardized test. Some of the students never questioned the worth to fight for the test and they might think they are fighting for their future and dreams. However, what are the dreams´╝č To be a doctor, lawyer, make money and enjoy a high social status? The dreams are standardized and the definition of success has become a fixed answer to them. It became the common sense that personal interest should give way to test preparation, textbooks are not controvertible. As Kumashiro (2009) has noted, "common sense tells us that experiencing such things is what it means to be in school."(p.XXXV)
Keating brought something new to the students and challenged the oppressive status quo. He said to the students, "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." He taught the students to face their soul and pursue truth and beauty, to enrich, deepen and realize themselves. However, is he a qualified teacher? Keating may successfully give the students troubling knowledge (by Kumashiro, "troubling knowledge means knowledge that is disruptive, discomforting, and problematizing.") to rethink the meaning of life, he told them to seize the day. But what does it mean by seizing the day? Doing whatever one want and connive at oneself going wild without thinking of the consequences? Keating didn't finish the job he started, a boy killed himself young. What Keating was facing were teenagers who are not mature in mind, they may lack of judgment and self-control, and they need to survive in the cruel competence of society. Beauty and love should never be the opposite of responsibility and capability of sustaining life, but I didn't see that Keating guide the students in a balanced way. To help the students grow up, a teacher should not only tell them how to find their dreams, but also how to realize and protect the dreams; the teacher should not only give students crisis, but also help them to walk through the crisis and realize real self-development.
Reference: Kevin K. Kumashiro (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO