I love movies and sometimes when I’m down, the best way up is an evening with one of my favorite, inspiring characters. Are they movie teachers? Sometimes.
For many educators, teacher movies represent all of the reasons we can’t get any respect; why the public has so much trouble understanding the complexities and challenges of our profession. When I Google “teacher movies,” the results could easily be a textbook example of “what is a stereotype.” There are the total horror shows (think Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher or Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter) and the savior-saints as portrayed in Freedom Writers or Dangerous Minds. Some bullies turn up as well, such as the crass Mr. Woodcock, or the more refined, but no less hurtful Professor Crawford in Finding Forrester. Many kids count the aptly named Miss Trunchbull from Matilda as their worst nightmare. I endured one or two bully teachers in middle school, and they ruined any hope at all of my liking, or feeling confident with, maths. Forever. I hate bully teachers. But the worst of all may be the losers; the teachers portrayed as incompetent and clueless. Lazy, mediocre individuals who could only be employable as teachers, as in “those who can’t, teach.”
Movie teachers are often one-dimensional. They are not portrayed completely in realistic context, an individual teacher can single-handedly banish generational poverty or institutionalized racism and, you never see them writing their lesson plans.
For all of the damage they might cause, the movies do offer inspiring educator role models – without diminishing the integrity of serious, professional practitioners. And for all the consternation I felt, there were some scenes in Bad Teacher that honestly made me belly laugh.
Yep. I think tonight might be movie night. Which teacher would you like to spend the evening with? Here are a few of my favorites:
Miss Riley in October Sky
Mr. White in McFarland USA
Mr. Rago in Renaissance Man
Mr. Cameron in Spare Parts
Principal Jacobs in Mr. Holland’s Opus.
I almost forgot Ridgemont High’s Mr. Hand. He’s a favorite. When he shows up at Jeff Spicoli’s house? The best!