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Teaching, Learning and Inspirational Teachers in Movies

Updated on August 29, 2013

TEACHER - Part of Rik's HubWay Network

Kids have always had a love/hate relationship with their teachers, secretly admiring them and sometimes having a real crush on them. But at another level even the most admiring pupils still rebel against the authority figure their teacher represents.

Adults too have extreme views about teachers; either despising or idolising them. Many adults like the idea of being a teacher but very few are prepared to take the job on and cope with the many challenges of teaching young people in today's rapidly changing world.

Historically a teacher is seen as someone who teaches or trains a class of students. This traditional view is teacher-centred and the learning that takes place is typically teacher-led with the teacher occupying the front of the classroom and using a board to present information to the class.

Teacher Crush

Just an Apple for the Teacher or do you have a crush?
Just an Apple for the Teacher or do you have a crush?

In contemporary teaching and training, however, learning is increasingly student-centred and much learning now takes place with the teacher facilitating student learning.

This approach has a number of advantages as each student can work at their own pace and can adopt a learning style that suits their own needs. Students naturally practice collaborative learning and explore new ideas and concepts together.

Today's learning often utilises computer-based training that also enables self-paced learning.

Teachers in the Movies

Teaching has a rich history with Socrates introducing Socratic Dialogue – teaching by posing questions. Great spiritual teachers such as Jesus Christ taught using both questions and also stories or parables. There is a strong tradition in the major religions of the teacher being highly valued and respected.

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A pupil is also a part of the EYE. Eyes are all seeing and beautiful. Look this way to find the EYE!

The Sure Thing
The Sure Thing

Western society is fascinated by the role of the teacher. Much popular culture revolves around schools and teaching.

You only have to look at the movies to see what a huge impact the process of learning and teaching has had on contemporary society.

A favourite theme in books and movies involves kids who have given up on learning. Then an inspirational teacher comes along who breaks through the barriers and inspires them to learn.

Typically the teacher is unconventional in their teaching methods. Take, for example, Whoopi Goldberg, the singing Nun in Sister Act (1992) or Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (1989).


The movie Fame (1980), with its inspirational teachers Shorofsky and Lydia Grant and pupils Leroy, Coco and Bruno was so popular it became a long-running TV Series.

Sometimes the inspiration to learn comes partly through physical attraction. In Fame, Leroy is obviously both inspired by and physically attracted to his dance teacher Lydia Grant.

Could it be a coincidence that my Physics teacher when I was thirteen was a goddess by the name of Miss Adams and I subsequently graduated with a degree in Physics?

Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer provides the inspiration for a bunch of 'off the rail' kids in Dangerous Minds (1995). If anyone could put me on the straight and narrow it would be Michelle Pfeiffer although I might struggle to write her surname on the blackboard!

The Sure Thing

A related genre to the teacher Movie is the High School Movie; often more about students and less about their teachers. The Sure Thing (1985) sees John Cusack on a voyage of discovery - a quest to a distant shore in search of The Sure Thing - the perfect girl to make love to.

In reality his soul mate is right under his nose and it is his wise English teacher, Professor Taub who shows him, through his own writing, where his heart really lies.

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous minds

Learn to Teach?

Perhaps this is a clue as to why so many of us secretly want to teach?

We like the idea of being someone who takes life's losers and dead-beats and turns their lives around. But the reality is not always like the movies. Kids can be hard work and the older they are the more difficult discipline becomes.

But In spite of the many difficulties, contemporary teaching can make a great second career. So why not consider taking your life's experiences and accumulated wisdom and, following in the footsteps of Whoopi, Robin and Michelle, share your knowledge and skills with the next generation?

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society


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    • Craftsmith profile image

      Craftsmith 7 years ago from India


    • Rik Ravado profile image

      Rik Ravado 9 years ago from England

      Georgia Kevin - glad you found your true vocation. I'm a training specialist but don't teach much any more - I do miss 'hands on' teaching!

      Hope - Good luck with your studies.

      Ralph - I couldn't agree more. In the UK today, schools discourage too much lecturing and encourage teachers to facilitate learning. However, I work with the military a lot and they still favour old fashioned lecturing. Unfortunately, today's young people don't respond well to this and prefer to be able to explore things for themselves or as a group.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      In the two most effective teaching methods I experienced the teacher was hardly allowed to speak. The first was the Army Language School or Cornell "aural-oral" method of learning to speak a language. Our classes consisted mostly of the entire class of 15 or so students reciting dialogs in unison.

      The other highly effective method was the Harvard Business School case method of instruction which consisted of business case discussions in a class of 90 (carefully composed of students with a wide variety of educational and experience backgrounds) facilitated by a professor who kept the discussion going but never lectured.

      More than 90 percent of the talking in the language and business school classes was done by the students.

      My impression is that the key in both methods was the active engagement and participation by the students as opposed to traditional passive lectures.

    • Hope Wilbanks profile image

      Hope Wilbanks 9 years ago from Louisiana

      Nice hub! I'm currently working on my BASS/Ed and plan on teaching in about 2-1/2-3 years.

    • Georgiakevin profile image

      Georgiakevin 9 years ago from Central Georgia

      As a teacher with 12 years exeperience. I believe that we are all hardwired at birth for a specific career. We may have other careers but until we have the career we were hard wired to have we won't be truly happy with our lives. I was one of thosse It took me 13 years and 7 careers before I became a teacher. In spite of the frustrations in teaching this is still the only career I can be happy doing.