One thing I often did during my days training teachers and preparing them in their pre-service courses – using movies to talk about teaching. They are a fantastic vehicle to discuss, learn, grow as a teacher.
So here are my own top movies for teachers and about teaching. I’m might take some flak for my choices but these are standouts not just cinematically but also as examples for teacher reflection.
#10. Stand And Deliver.
Based on a true math teacher Jaime Escalante. A very inspiring view of teaching as a vocation (not a profession) and as dedication and caring (Nel Noddings would nod her head!) Read about the true facts of Escalante’s time at Garfield here.
#9. Dangerous Minds.
You have to admire Michelle Pfeiffer’s character as she never gives up on her students, even in times of tragedy. Stirring, incredibly acted. Shows teaching as a vocation more than any other film.
#8. Mr. Holland’s Opus.An important film about teaching. A musician reluctantly tries teaching to pay the bills and despite feeling like a failure, he gets more than he ever could imagine in return.
#7. Half Nelson.
This movie presents lots of ethical dilemmas for teachers to confront. A teacher has a relationship with one of his students. He also abuses drugs. It dives into the pragmatic side of teaching and takes off a lot of the window dressing the job is usually dressed in.
#6. Etre et Avoir (To be or to have).
A gorgeous film and documentary about a small, one room primary school in the countryside of France. You’ll never look at teaching the same again after watching this film.
#5. Freedom Writers.
A story about a teacher who is tried and true “social reconstructivist” and believing teaching is more than just imparting knowledge. She tries to get her students to move beyond their inner-city roots and gang life. Inspiring.
#4. Waiting For Superman.
An engaging documentary and in-depth look into the state of public education in America. It leaves more questions than answers but refreshingly honest in its approach.
#3. Children Of A Lesser God
This movie about a teacher of the deaf and his student raises issues about inclusion in our schools (deaf students are all segregated at a boarding school on an island) and issues of ethics (teacher / student relationship) .
#2. Dead Poet’s Society
Simple a Robin Williams classic about a teacher of literature at a boarding school who inspires his students like no other teacher could.
#1. Children Full Of Life.
I’ve watched this film over and over. I was a grade 4 teacher like Mr. Kanamori and can relate to how real this documentary truly is. The class learns many important life and “growing up” lessons led by their amazing teaching.
Some honorable mentions.
Also published on Medium.
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