There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.
John Keating, Dead Poets Society
The late, great Robin Williams starred in many wonderful films: Good Will Hunting, Insomnia and Good Morning, Vietnam to name but three, but none touched my heart in quite the same way Dead Poets Society did. Williams’s character, the English teacher John Keating, inspires students at a private boys’ school to embrace poetry and to live by the motto carpe diem (‘seize the day’), encouraging them to break the mould and be more than they ever dreamed they could be.
The film is full of inspirational quotes but this one is my favourite. It encapsulates one of the most difficult skills a parent can teach a child: how to encourage them to stretch outside of their comfort zone without running the risk of demoralising them through constant failure. It’s a balancing act few of us ever truly master, even as adults.
Better still, don’t just read the quote – watch the film. I defy anyone to sit through the film’s ending (“O Captain! My Captain!”) and not shed a tear. Not that I would ever cry while watching a movie. Oh no. Not me, sir.