I didn't feel that way about English; although I scored poorly in class, I loved (and still do) to read. I found in books not so much an escape from the pine trees of East Texas, but a view into other worlds. I devoured books, because I felt a connection to the characters.
A few weeks back I found an interesting blog post about this very subject. In it, the author laments the downfall of reading. Like me, she observes the importance of literature to enter into the lives of others. That is the key for literature. Literature allows people to experience the "other," peoples and cultures unlike anything readers have experienced.
The question now is: what does this have to do with my movie?
If literature is the doorway to understanding or appreciating other cultures, then responsibility falls upon teachers to find ways for students to understand that culture. I am a Anglo-American who has lived in the South my entire life. If I want to understand even remotely "Theme for English B," I have to find images and accounts of what it means to be a Black Man during the early 20th century. What's more, I have to find ways to convey what it meant to be an African American in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. I will never fully understand those feelings, but through the music, images, words, and accounts left behind, I can construct the mood surrounding the feelings. I see this movie as conveying this moment for students and myself. In this way, I can understand the "other," and gain an appreciation.