There have been many films which portray the different types of teachers we encounter on our educational journeys. Some are strict disciplinarians, some are cool and laid-back. We have seen kind teachers with a deep passion for their craft and sometimes teachers who couldn’t care less. In today’s blog we are going to go over some of the most positive portrayals of teachers in film in the hopes that it may serve as a reminder of the endless ways in which good teachers can really affect the lives of their students.
- Dead Poets’ Society
No such list would be complete without mention of the legendary Mr. Keating and the ways he made poetry leap off the page and how he motivated his students to follow their dreams with the power of the line “Carpe Diem” (seize the day).
The film shows the eccentric teacher ripping pages out of books and having students stand on their desk so they may see the world from a different perspective. He encourages them at all costs to ‘suck the marrow’ out of life and chase their dreams at all costs. Although the ending is quite gloomy and there are questionable presentations of the themes of obedience and suicide it is nevertheless a powerful film that will stay with you long after it ends.
- Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot is an 11-year-old boy who grows up in a small mining-town in county Durham to a widower father. He is encouraged to take boxing lessons with dismal results, but he takes a shine to ballet dancing which takes place in the same community centre.
It is his teacher Mrs. Wilkinson who finds his spark and encourages him to follow the path of least resistance to become a truly great dancer. Under her watchful eye and (at first) behind his father’s back she trains Billy in preparation for a prestigious audition for the Royal Ballet.
- Dangerous Minds
A very dark and edgy film, this portrays the story of Louanne Johnson – an ex-marine sent to one of the grittiest and poorest areas of the city to teach high school kids the system has all but given up on. She uses her own street smarts and a deep caring to slowly build a unique bond with the kids as she teaches them that nobody is going to be able to help them but themselves and hard work and determination pays off.
This film has a great soundtrack for those of you who like urban music- especially rap and hip hop. The Coolio song Gangster’s Paradise is featured in this film and was a long-standing number one hit on the charts.
- Good-Bye Mr. Chips
By far the oldest film on this list, GoodBye, Mr. Chips tells the epic story of Arthur Chipping. At first a rather intolerable teacher, it is during a summer holiday that he finds and falls in love with music hall entertainer Katherine Bridges.
With new meaning in his life and a more hopeful outlook, he returns to Brookfield School a changed man who becomes a much beloved teacher and eventually Brookfield’s Headmaster. It is a sweeping love story that takes place over several years but shows us that life is really a kind of mirror and we get back (from our students) what we put out into the world.
- To Sir, With Love
Every Teacher/Student film list absolutely must mention To Sir, With Love. This film from 1967 stars Sidney Poitier as Mr. Mark Thackeray teaching in a secondary school in the slums of London’s East End.
It may have been among the first and (at the time the biggest) film delving into the idea of a ‘teacher in over his head’ in charge of a bunch of unteachable misfits who are eventually won over. It also has an amazing and highly memorable title song by Scottish singer-songwriter and television personality Lulu.
If you enjoy this type of movie I hope that you’ll check out these highly-worthwhile films. This is a very common trope in the world of cinema. If you have any great movies in your country that deal with the teacher-student relationship, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
takes a shine to – immediately starts to like
much beloved – very well-liked