After polling teachers, checking box office numbers, critical reviews and teacher forums, we've compiled a list of the Top 12 must-see teacher movies. Here are the first six (though they appear in no particular order):
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Robin Williams gives a shockingly understated, touching portrayal of a teacher who brings inspiration to the lives of his straight-laced prep school students. A little saccharine but mostly sincere, Dead Poets Society is guaranteed to infuse poetry into the most prosaic days.
Teachers taps into the realities of teaching with over-the-top satire, including disappearing desks, a brawl over the copy machine and a star substitute who is actually an escaped mental patient. Nick Nolte stars as the slacker hero who brings heart to this spoof.
Half Nelson (2006)
In this intense, indie drama, a friendship forms between a well-intentioned, drug-addicted teacher and his 13-year-old student who is trying to escape her convict brother’s fate. After she catches him smoking crack, the two alternately try to save the other while their own lives spiral out of control. Unlike most feel-good teacher movies, Half Nelson is about real people with real problems, but also maintains a tangible sense of hope.
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Based on a true story, Stand and Deliver depicts a rebellious math teacher who transforms his seemingly hopeless, apathetic students into the top-scorers in the state. Their achievement is so remarkable that the school board accused the Latino students of cheating. Just imagine this story in our test-obsessed age of NCLB.
To Be and To Have / Être et avoir (2002)
This French documentary transcends with trite world of hokey, inspiration fiction. To Be and To Have follows teacher Georges Lopez and his 12 students (ages 4 – 12) in their rural schoolhouse. Peter Rainer of New York Magazine wrote that “it demonstrates without overreaching what an actual teacher can do to shape lives.”
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
Classical musician Glenn Holland assumes that teaching will leave him plenty free time to compose his classical masterpiece. Instead, he finds his life’s passion in musical education. Mr. Holland’s Opus reminds us that, even when it seems frustrating and futile, teaching will can change lives – both your students and your own.
Check back tomorrow for the second half of our must-see movie list! Or share your favorite in the comments section.