This film covers a longer time period than Music of the Heart, for Mr. Holland ends up teaching for more than thirty years. The film shows how valuable teaching can be to the teacher and also how valuable a good teacher can be to his students:
The film is set in a suburban school, and the divisions are not cultural so much as generational, with the young resisting learning what the older generation believes is valuable in music or in other subjects. Both films, though, see music education as an opportunity to reach young people more directly than would be possible with history, mathematics, or social studies. Mr. Holland manages to do this with less heroic measures than Roberta Guaspari has to take. His teaching methods are not dissimilar from those used by Guaspari, though, in that he finds ways to empower the young to become learners rather than making them robots who repeat back what they are told. He thus also shows them the sort of respect adults usually show one another while talking down to the young. Both teachers demonstrate how important it is to treat students as individuals and as capable learners in order to make them just that.
As noted, though, music and other arts have a difficult time not because there are no teachers with passion supporting them but because administrators and parents often have to dragged kicking and screaming into supporting these subjects. This is clearly true in America where education is often seen not as mental imposement but as preparation for a job. Unless a child is going to be a musician, music is seen as entertainment and so not as something that improves your educational standing. Therefore, when there is any difficulty in funding, music and other arts are among the first programs to be cut. Many have pointed out that such programs are certain to be lost while sports programs are given extra funding. This would probably not be the case in the sort of school where Roberta teaches, for the inner city school