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Textbook Standards

A textbook answer means that something is exactly how it would be described in a textbook. It is predictable and as expected. Using clips from the film Mona Lisa Smile and the TV show The Newsroom, Jenny shares her thoughts on a ‘textbook’ approach, linking to Jesus' words to the religious leaders of his day.

The movie, Mona Lisa Smile, follows a 30-year-old teacher, Catherine Ann Watson, as she joins Wellesley College to teach the history of art. Here she finds the brightest girls, but they are already textbook perfect in their responses.

Jesus was called Teacher many times and yet we hear a variation of: ‘You have heard it said… but I tell you.’ Not predictable. Not as expected.

Catherine decides to adopt a new syllabus. There is challenge and differing viewpoints, but a new way of thinking and seeing starts to emerge: 'Is it any good?'

Using examples from the bible and from

education, Jenny considers the question: 'Aren't there standards?'

In the Mona Lisa Smile film, Betty, one of the students, does not approve of the new direction of the class and makes these feelings known to the authorities in charge of Catherine.

We too may find it easier to stick with the textbook, standard answers than to change.

Sometimes, we tell the story we need to tell to fit the narrative that we need to exist.

In this final clip from The Newsroom there is a breaking news story of a shooting. All of the other news outlets say that the victim is dead – but the sources are unconfirmed. Do they go with the majority or risk their audience by appearing out of step?

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