Teachers tend to be overworked and underappreciated, it’s unsurprising then that a lot of modern shows have taken to showing teachers as less inspirational figures and more people doing their best with what they have. If you do want to be inspired by a teacher though, here are seven movies for you to check out that make you wish you had these teachers.
School of Rock
When you got a substitute be honest, you wanted him to be like Jack Black in this film. Full of energy and lots of laughs, ‘School of Rock’ is about a failed musician who pretends to be a substitute teacher and turns his students into mini rockers for the upcoming battle of the bands. This may seem like it is a bit out of left field for a list of inspirational teacher movies, but Jack Black’s Mr Schneebly/Dewey Finn inspires these kids to love music and to break away from the micromanaging of their parents.
Claireece “Precious” Jones is almost completely illiterate and suffers daily emotional abuse from her mother. Precious transfers to an alternative school and this is where our inspirational teacher Ms. Rain, Paula Patton, comes into play. Ms. Rain works patiently with her students and helps them find a way to heal through reading and writing. Just make sure to have tissues on hand when watching this one.
Dead Poets Society
“Oh Captain! My Captain!” Robin Williams is iconic in this classic and there is a reason that it sticks with you after watching. In this film Williams plays John Keating an English teacher who inspires his students through literature and poetry. With his infectious passion for what he is teaching he has his class learning to fight back against conformity and using their imaginations. While Keating can be a little too pushy at times, he is still beloved by his class.
Lean on Me
Morgan Freeman is one of those actors who you just know is going to pull off any role he takes on. In “Lean on Me” he plays Joe Clark, an ex-teacher with a unique style of teaching, who is brought into the worst school in New Jersey to try and boost test scores. The film deals with not only the transformation of his students, but that of the school itself as he deals with gangs and drugs that run rampant in the school. Clark is not always likeable, but he gets results and stands up for what he believes. He is softened by his compassion for the more vulnerable students in the school.
Set in LA, teacher Erin Gruwell, Hillary Swank, wants to help a group of high-risk students learn to love literature. To get them to open up, she begins to help her students make connections between their lives and the horrors they are discussing in the class. She gives her students journals to let them share their lives and experiences in and helps them to grow and find themselves. This is based on a real story and the foundation “Freedom Writers” can be found online.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
This is another film you’ll want to get the tissues at the ready for. Richard Dreyfuss plays the titular Mr. Holland, a music teacher who shows how one passionate and dedicated teacher can change the lives of those they teach. Not only does he inspire his students, but he also learns and grows from his experiences with them as well as any good teacher should.
Stand and Deliver
Another true story, this time with a maths teacher Mr. Escalante as our inspirational figure. This is particularly striking as most of the films with inspirational teachers tend to be more of the creative side i.e., English, Literature or Music teachers. Escalante, Edward James Olmos, inspires his kids by breaking down complex material, using humour to keep them entertained and turns the math problems into ones they can relate to. It’s a true underdog story that will leave you with a full heart.
There are so many more movies that could be brought up that have inspirational teachers; however, these seven films are probably a good place to start. Be prepared to laugh, cry and maybe learn something new. Just don’t forget the tissues.
Technical writer and project coordinator Sara Sparrow, Top essay writing services and Australian reviewer, spends most of her work life in tech and marketing conferences or consulting with other organizations. When she can she also contributes articles to online magazines and blogs like Write my Australia.