Chalk is the latest release by Morgan Spurlock, so one is immediately pre-disposed to having opinions about it due to the fact that Supersize Me was so controversial. Although entertaining, Chalk is flawed in a most significant way: it comes off as a documentary when, in fact, it is not one. Its tagline, “Real teaching leaves a mark,” is extremely misleading.
At the time, I figured the film was a documentary. But I couldn’t help but wonder how some of the scenes were caught on camera, as having a camera in a classroom would certainly cause students and teachers to act differently. It wasn’t until I came home and double-checked that it began to make sense — the names of the teachers don’t match up with the names of the actors and actresses who played them so convincingly. It was a most disappointing discovery.
Four teachers were the primary subjects of the movie, and Chalk showed most of them in their classroom environments or in a teacher break room. Class sizes were tiny, quite unlike those of a real school.
Amongst the more notable teachers in the movie are Mr. Lowrey, played by Troy Schremmer, and Mr. Stroope, played by Chris Mass. Mr. Lowrey was a former engineer turned first-year teacher, and the focus was largely on his awkward stylings and numerous mistakes. He was probably the most actualized character, though, as he grew and changed throughout the movie. Although teaching was something that frustrated him at first, he began to like it and appreciate his students. He seemed to be the only teacher who actually learned from his students.
Mr. Stroope, the History teacher, wanted nothing more than to become Teacher Of The Year, and stopped only at threatening students who were smarter than him. Unlike Mr. Lowrey, he was relatively static throughout the movie — staying as the same determined, tempremental teacher that he started out as.
The movie is just short-term entertainment and is not at all life-changing, particularly because it’s not real. This small bit of relatively minor deception actually made quite an impact on me on the viewer… perhaps at some point someone will be able to make a documentary on the real trials and tribulations of teaching.