Friday, December 27, 2013

Hollywood's Heads of the Class

The "Inspirational Teacher Story" has been a time-honored tradition in Hollywood for more than fifty years. From impassioned but frustrated teacher Richard Dadier - played by Glenn Ford - in 1955's Blackboard Jungle to pathetic but ironically effective Elizabeth Halsey - played by Cameron Diaz - in Bad Teacher, audiences can't seem to get enough of engaging heads of the class.  Whether the films are documentaries or "based on a true story," or some scriptwriter's fantasy of what effective teaching looks like, the teacher movies are generally based on one idea - inspiring reluctant learners to achieve by caring about them and having high expectations.  They can certainly become cliched, though the connection between the true stories and the imagined ones are often so vivid that we have to wonder if it's really so simple.  Everyone has their favorite "teacher movie," but there are some standards that top any list.  Some of the "Best in Class" are:

To Sir, with Love

Stand and Deliver

Dead Poets Society

Mr. Holland's Opus

Dangerous Minds

Freedom Writers

The Great Debaters

And, of course, we can't neglect
Bad Teacher

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