The Classroom According to Hollywood
Volume Ten: The Classic Television Series: Mr. Novak
This is an update of a popular activity that the presenters incorporate into their online education classes for pre-teachers. Volume 9 last year changed the focus from Hollywood movies to Network TV series. Volume 10 will focus on first dramatic television series about teaching: Mr. Novak (1963-1966). Mr. Novak won many awards, including a special award by the NEA. The presenters have previously identified over 85 Hollywood films dealing with kids, teachers and the classroom. The entire set of Volumes 1- 8 clips focused on various themes such as 2014ís presentation Bully in Schools, but a question often raised by teachers and students why do we not see the classroom portrayed on TV as a drama series? In 65 years of TV there has been less than 10 serious TV series on the classroom. Mr. Novak over 50 years ago was the first and addressed most of the major issues we face as teachers today: Drugs, Pregnancy, homeless, bullying, handicapped, cheating and death of student to mention a few. The presenters will have three disks, each with clips dealing with an episode that focused one of the specific teaching issues.
This is an approach to a popular activity that the presenters incorporate into their online education classes for pre-teachers. The presenters in Volumes One through Eight (2007-2014) have used short (3-8 Minute) video clips each week from Hollywood movies to stimulate discussion both in the Classroom and Online about various aspects of teaching in the classroom. Currently, these clips previously shown at this conference stimulate threaded discussions in their distant learning classes. A question the education students often ask is why do we not see drama displayed on television in a series.
Over the past six decades, Hollywood and the television networks have not focused on the classroom through a drama series. Mostly what TV has offered is sit-com and comedy utilizing the classroom as the setting?
Most adults do not want to revisit their high school days, but we teachers enjoy Hollywood and how they portray the classroom.
Wikipedia identifies a partial list of 114 television series about school and teaching. It left off the list many TV series where many episodes occur in the classroom. However, trying to find a serious drama on television about schools and teaching is few and far between.
It wasnít until 1963 that the first real drama appeared on TV. In 1963 NBC aired at 7:30 p.m. a TV series called Mr. Novak. Beginning September 24, 1963, Mr. John Novak, a young, tough-minded, idealistic first-year high school English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angles, often got involved in the lives of his students and fellow teachers while exploring English literature with young minds.
Mr. Novak over 50 years ago addressed most of †the major issues we face as teachers today: Drugs, pregnancy, homeless, bullying, handicapped, cheating and the death of student to mention a few. The presenters will have three disks, each with clips dealing with an episode that focused on one of the specific teaching issues. The clips are to long for the time limitation f the presentation, so just one set will be shown.
Mr. Novak lasted just two years and 60 episodes were aired. The series has never been released on DVD and has not appeared on cable since the 1980s. Collectors all over the country have assembled 53 of the 60 episodes.
There are no books published dedicated to the Mr. Novak series. Currently the presenter is involved in writing a book with a Hollywood published author who specializes in classic television and silent movies. My job is to compare an episode with a real life experience in the classroom. I have solicited five retired teachers to help who contacted me through my Mr. Novak web site. They are writing guest reviews from the eyes of a teacher on some of the 53 available episodes.†
Participants from the conference, if they have been secondary school teachers in the past, will be asked to volunteer their critique on some of the episodes. A set of the 53 episodes will be given to each participant to view and select one episode to critique. †All will be cited as contributors to the book with their short, one paragraph bio, followed by their analysis and comparison to their prior experiences.† Sample critiques, which will be in the book, will be distributed as a handout.
The book will be published before the 2017 conference with the purpose of pressuring NBC to release the series via DVD after the authors travel the conference circuit. After all there are over one million teachers in this country, but todayís teachers just donít know about this classic series. In 1963 Mr. Novak helped this presenter to become a teacher.