Hollywood’s depiction of school, learning and education is varied to say the least. There are some absolute masterpieces and some shocking disaster-pieces.
Whether it be a provocative documentary or a light-hearted spoof, the teacher movies that have the biggest impact are those that we can instantly identify with. Here is our list of the 10 best teacher movies as rated by the Fractus team as well as independent reviewers.
Teacher Movies – The Top 10
An inner-city teacher struggling with addiction forms an unlikely bond with a young student who catches him in a compromising position. Despite his dedication to the junior-high students who fill his classroom, idealistic teacher Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) leads a secret life that the majority of his students will never know.
In 1959, the Welton Academy is a staid but well-respected prep school where education is a pragmatic and rather dull affair. Several of the students, however, have their thoughts on the learning process (and life itself) changed when a new teacher comes to the school. John Keating (Robin Williams) is an unconventional educator who tears chapters of his textbooks and asks his students to stand on their desks to see the world from a new angle.
The world’s least-employable heavy metal guitarist is entrusted with the minds of upstate New York’s best and brightest in this fish-out-of-water comedy. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, axe-bearer for a fitfully successful bar band determined to win a regional battle-of-the-bands competition.
A French chronicle which follows an academic year in the lives of twelve school kids, ages 4-10, who are taught every subject, from math to gym, by one single dedicated teacher, Georges Lopez. This film is the Fractus must watch.
Edward James Olmos portrays the real-life Jaime Escalante, a no-nonsense mathematic teacher in a tough East LA high school. Handed a classroom full of “losers” and “unteachables,” Escalante is determined to turn his young charges’ lives around.
Maybe not officially categorized under teacher movies, Karate Kid does show a very interesting relationship between teacher and student – Newly arrived in California from New Jersey, teenager Daniel (Ralph Macchio) almost immediately runs afoul of karate-trained high school bullies. He is rescued by Japanese janitor Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), who agrees to teach Daniel how to harness karate for good instead of brutality.
From “An Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim comes “Waiting for ‘Superman'”, a provocative and cogent examination of the crisis of public education in the United States told through multiple interlocking stories — from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance, to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system.
Mel Gibson made his feature film directing debut with this drama, loosely based on the book by Isabel Holland. Gibson plays Justin McLeod, a former teacher who, after having his face and his body terribly disfigured in an automobile accident, has taken to living alone in a big house in an island off the coast of Maine.
Based on William Gibson’s Broadway play and retaining its acclaimed cast, The Miracle Worker tells the true story of Helen Keller, an Alabama girl struck blind and deaf as a baby after an elevated fever. Annie Sullivan, a partially-blind woman is assigned the impossible task of teaching Helen sign language.
10. Chalk (2006)
Four educators muddle through another year at a typical American high school in this mockumentary comedy. Chalk received the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Independent Film Festival of Boston.
So, what are your favourite teacher movies? And what makes them stick out above the rest?
Image courtesy of Flickr, laurariumartín.