The lives of two brilliant mathematicians from India and the USA, a teenager’s determination for a better life through literacy, a newly unemployed man who enrols in a college to try and start a new life, a stifled Oxford academic’s obsession with a female student and a the adventures of a group of boys at a Victorian boarding school are among the subjects covered by DVDs recently added to the Library’s Education in Literature Collection. There are also films from Iran, Brazil and Italy.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) stars Dev Patel as Srinavasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) a shipping clerk from Madras whose passion for mathematics leads him to write a letter to G.H.Hardy (Jeremy Irons) a mathematics professor at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hardy brings Ramanujan to Cambridge, in 1913 to further his work in mathematics. Despite his support Ramanujan has to fight against the challenges of prejudice and racism.
The mathematician portrayed in A Beautiful Mind (2001) by Russell Crowe is John Forbes Nash Jr. (1928-2015). He made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry and the study of partial differential equations. His brilliance was hampered by his long battle against paranoid schizophrenia. The film is directed by Ron Howard.
Precious (2009) directed by Lee Daniels, is a life-affirming story of an abused African-American teenager in 1980s Harlem whose life start to improve when she is offered a place at an alternative school. There Clareece ‘Precious’ Jones finds a mentor who helps her to overcome her illiteracy.
In Accident (1967) Stephen (Dirk Bogarde) is a middle-aged professor stifled by his marriage and his life as an Oxford academic. He becomes obsessed with his beautiful student Anna. His rivals for her affections are her young fiancé William (Michael York) and a more successful fellow academic Charley (Stanley Baker). The film is directed by Joseph Losey from a screenplay by playwright Harold Pinter.
Stalky & Co, is a six part BBC TV (1982) series set in the late 1890’s and based on the novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. It is set in a private boy’s school and recounts the adventures of Stalky (Robert Adie), McTurk (Robert Burbage) and Beetle (David Parfitt). The character of Beetle is said to be based on Kipling himself and Stalky & Co on his experiences as a pupil at the United Services College at Bideford, Devon. Be warned that sometimes these schoolboy’s attitudes and adventures feature revenge, hatred, violence and passion. There are copies of the novel in the Education in Literature Collection and in the Curriculum Collection.
The eponymous hero of Larry Crowne (2011) played by Tom Hanks loses his long-standing job and enrols in his local college to learn new skills. He finds support from new friends and also develops a crush on his teacher (Julia Roberts). Tom Hanks also directs the film.
Talented violinist Laerte (Lazaro Ramos) fails to gain a place in the renowned Sao Paulo Symphonic Orchestra. Instead he has to teach music in a public school in Heliopolis, the biggest and most violent slum of Brazil. Gradually Laerte is able to gain the community’s trust through the transforming power of music. The Violin Teacher (Tudo que aprendemos juntos), directed by Sergio Machado, was the winner of the Best Brazilian Feature Film at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival 2015. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Blackboards (2000) is an unusual film from Iran whose director is a young woman Samira Makhmalbaf. In the film a group of itinerate teachers wander the countryside near the border with Iraq looking for students. They carry their blackboards with them and find many uses for them- as a cover from gunfire, shelter from the weather or even as a stretcher. The teachers are eager to impart knowledge but find very few students. In Kurdish with English subtitles. It won the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 2000.
Notte prima degli esami (Night before the exams) (2006) is an Italian teen comedy film about the adventures of Luca and his friends as they prepare for the esami di maturita (the Italian high school final exam). It is set in Rome during 1989 and features music by Europe, Duran Duran, Cecchetto and other popular 1980s bands.
The Education in Literature Collection contains novels ,plays, autobiographies ,poetry and DVDs which explores the educational experience at all levels and from the perspective of both pupil and teacher from many countries. The collection is shelved at the back of the Library Teaching Room on the 4th Floor of the UCL IOE Newsam Library and Archives.