Learning from Bad Teachers: The Neoliberal Agenda for Education in Popular Media

  • José García The University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: Teachers, Neoliberalism, Popular Culture, Film, Education Reform


This paper examines representations of the neoliberal agenda for education in a recent school genre film, Bad Teacher (2011) and an episode of The Simpsons (2009). I argue that the explicit and implicit messages in these cultural products simultaneously shape, reinforce, and normalize contemporary popular discourses of education. As public pedagogy, Hollywood films are the primary sites where education takes place in contemporary times (Giroux & Pollock, 2010). Rather than dismissing these films for their face value messages, I propose we critically analyze them to understand how the neoliberal project is naturalized within films and television shows as capitalist realism. As teacher educators, it is crucial that we critically read these films with our students to identify and counter the subtle messages in films informed by the neoliberal agenda for education.