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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Favorite Teacher Movie of All Time?

Favorite Teacher Movie of All Time?

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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OK, so here's a thread with very little purpose other than to share some titles of movies that make us smile or think about our own profession. Have a second? Then drop us a comment on your favorite teacher movie of all time! I can't wait to hear what you have to say. -Heather WG

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Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

There are so many! I'm a sucker for the sappy ones. "Mr. Holland's Opus" has me tear up every time. I love the arts and music (I was a band geek and a choir queeb in high school)- it really does pain me to see how it's being eliminated in our schools. "Lean On Me" is another good one. I've often said we needed Joe Clark to come out of retirement!

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert-Gawron
Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night
Blogger 2014

OK, don't hate me: I can't stand Mr. Holland's Opus. And I am as big a Richard Dreyfuss fan as there is, ever since The Goodbye Girl.

Think of how many kids he bored or damaged while still discovering himself? I growl at depictions of teaching as a sloppy second. (see Sideways) Yes, I guess that's the point, that he learns just how rewarding it can be, but the guy is so selfish, that when he finally gets his Act III tear-jerking finale, I just wanted to ask if he really deserved it.

And what's with the midlife crisis drooling over the talented student? That's just creepy under any circumstances.

And don't even get me started on the deaf son whose father can't connect to him because he can't appreciate music like he does. It should have been called "Me, Me, Me, Me, Me Opus."

John Norton's picture
John Norton
Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

I had a chance to ask an online community of teachers (with lots of middle school folks involved) to name and explain/defend their favorite "teacher movie." Of course many named a bunch and there were as many stories about movies they hated as movies they loved. But boiling it all down, this was their Top 10.

Any of your favorites here? Or movies you can't stand and can't wait to tell us why? :)

#1 Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)
#2 Stand and Deliver (1988)
#3 October Sky (1999)
#4 Dangerous Minds (1995)
#5 Freedom Writers (2007)
#6 Chalk (2006)
#7 To Sir With Love (1967)
#8 Dead Poets Society (1989)
#9 Remember the Titans (2000)
#10 Teachers (1984)

John Norton's picture
John Norton
Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

Sorry about that #1, Heather!

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

OK. It's true .. I do love the sappy, heart-warming, tear-jerker movies about teaching. But, I have to say, I do get frustrated by the savior-come-to-rescue-those-poor-urban-kids movies. (Can we say Freedom Writer, Music from the Heart, Dangerous Minds, etc.?)

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert-Gawron
Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night
Blogger 2014

...and they always involve teen pregnancy as some plot twist, right? I agree. As far as teacher movies go, I"m not a big fan of the "savior movie" either, but I can't deny that it can be an easy "based on a true story" pitch. After all, we do make an impact on kids' lives every year, and those plots are out there, unfortunately, all the time.

But if we broaden our definition of teacher movie to enclose "School Movies," I would also say that I remember loving Mark Harmon in, wait for it...

SUMMER SCHOOL

It's true. I'm saying it with pride. And then there are a lot of movies that are less about the teacher and more about the kids which are also effective:

THE BREAKFAST CLUB
CLUELESS

Any thoughts, fellow middle schoolers?

-Heather WG

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

[quote]...and they always involve teen pregnancy as some plot twist, right? I agree. As far as teacher movies go, I"m not a big fan of the "savior movie" either, but I can't deny that it can be an easy "based on a true story" pitch. After all, we do make an impact on kids' lives every year, and those plots are out there, unfortunately, all the time.

But if we broaden our definition of teacher movie to enclose "School Movies," I would also say that I remember loving Mark Harmon in, wait for it...

SUMMER SCHOOL

It's true. I'm saying it with pride. And then there are a lot of movies that are less about the teacher and more about the kids which are also effective:

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

CLUELESS

Any thoughts, fellow middle schoolers?

-Heather WG[/quote]

You are soooooooo on track, Heather! Not only teen pregnancy, but someone always has to be killed, drugs are usually involved, there's someone who can't read, and, of course, the brilliant student who no one recognizes except .... (drum roll please) .... the "Savior Teacher"!

I have to say I'm with you on Summer School. There's something about the underachiever helping the underachievers achieve. (Say that 5 times fast! The Breakfast Club - one of my ALL time favorites! Of course I am a child of the '80s so I think it's required! And I though Clueless was adorable!

In the end, I find the best are ones that portray strong relationships.

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