Dead Poets Society is a novel written by N.H. Kleinbaum. The book tells a story about young boys and their new English teacher Mr. Keating at Welton Academy, a private school situated in the remote hills of Vermont.
Keating comes with a very new and modern style of teaching to the old-fashioned school. Most of the students like him a lot and his way but he seems not to be liked a lot for his ".unorthodox teaching methods." (p. 109, quote-Nolan) by the other teachers, the student's parents and especially by principle Nolan. Keating's colleagues are all teaching the old style with discipline and hard work. The new English teacher is a little bit crazy in his way of teaching, e.g. he lets the students rip out pages of their textbook or he jumps on his desk. The main difference between his style and the 'old' Welton teachers is that he wants his students to think free and have their own opinion. That is stated in a lot quotes, one of them is "When you read, don't only consider what the author thinks, but take time to consider what you think." (p. 60). In my opinion it is very important to think on your own and "not end up in conformity". I can't agree with others like Nolan and McAllister that the boys are too young and impressionable to think for themselves, e.g. how Mr. McAllister questions that: "Ah, free thinkers at seventeen!" (p. 44).
Another point that supports Keating and his style is his success by teaching the boys. Keating is catching his pupils on his lessons. They learn a lot from him, more than just poetry and plain English. So does Todd, the once very shy student, make an enormous progress when he wrote this really good poem (p. 145-147) and recited it in the cave in front of all the others. You can also see the full respect that the students give him when at the end ".they are all standing on their desks in silent salute to Mr. Keating."
But the English teacher's "revolution in the boy's thinking" accidentally ends up in a disaster. Neil Perry, like all the others, learned from Keating they have to self-think and to seize the day (Carpe Diem). To "Seize the Day" means that they shall live an extraordinary life and enjoy every day. While having that in mind, Neil discovers his passion for acting and performs in a play, to do what he likes to (=he seizes his day). He gets into deep trouble for that with his dad who doesn't want him to ".waste [his] time with this absurd acting business." This disputes goes that far that Mr. Perry wants to resign his son from Welton and enrol him in a military school. That was totally unthinkable for Neil. The following night he shot himself.
That was of course a tragedy also for everybody at Welton. The reason had to be found, why Neil committed suicide. The investigations led to Keating. He should have encouraged the boy ".to follow his obsession of acting when he knew it went directly against the explicit orders of Neil's parents" (p. 159/160) what led at the end to his death.
I don't think at all, that Keating ought to be prevented from teaching for his style or the reproaches Neil's death is his fault. First, his style is successful; the students like it and learn much more that way than learning the traditional way through discipline and hard work. Second, as I already stated, you can not make Keating responsible for Neil committing suicide cause he taught him how it is supposed to be; they learn for life and to think free. It was more the old style of honour, discipline etc. which the teacher's and his parents taught him that killed Neil.