Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movies of Educators to Inspire...

Over the last little while I've been recalling some of my favourite movies dealing with education from an educators perspective.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a list that is worth a gander

The Emperor's Club -- Kevin Klein is a Roman history teacher, that clashes wills with the son of a senator.  When Klein believes he has failed, he gets surprised by his successes.  To quote one of his students "A great teacher has little external history to record. His life goes over into other lives. These men are pillars in the intimate structure of our schools. They are more essential than its stones or beams, and they will continue to be a kindling force and a revealing power in our lives."

Dead Poets Society -- One of my all time favourite Robin Williams performances.  Robin Williams portrays a teacher that returns to his Alma mater, to enlighten and mold his students into aspiring thinkers, with some tragic consequences.  "Captain, my captain" still rings in my mind when I'm feeling a little rebelliousness stirring in my heart and mind. If you can find it, the directors cut is worth the extra time.

To Sir, With Love -- Based upon the novel To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite, Sindey Poitier plays a teacher that deals with issues of racism, and inspires his students to be enganged in their changing world of East London.  We also get introduced to the singing talents of Lulu, singing To Sir, With Love.

Dangerous Minds -- Michelle Pfeiffer is a school teacher in a marginal high school.  She faces limited success until she uses Bob Dylan lyrics to get students to study and learn poetry.  This movie is based upon the book My Posse Don't Do Homework (which I'll have to add to the reading list). The sound track brings us Coolio's Gangsters Paradise.

Stand and Deliver -- A East LA math teacher, inspires his students to excell in math and win a number of scholarships.  The problem is the establishment doesn't want to accept the success of these unexpected students.  Stand and Deliver is based upon the Jaime Escalante a Bolivian born teacher that manages a number of under-achieving students from East LA to pass Advanced Calculus only to be accused of cheating.  I'm not sure if the movie came be for or after the book Escalante: The Best Teacher in America ( which has also been added to my reading list.) 

Lean on Me -- Morgan Freeman portrays Joe Louis Clark, principal of Eastside High in Paterson NJ.  This bio-drama, depicts the challenges, successes, and failures of Joe Louis Clark, as he tries to resurrect a failing inner city high school.

Conrack -- Based upon the memoir The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy, Jon Voight portrays the young white school teacher, sent to a small, all black, rural island community.  The title Conrack comes from the mis-pronunciation of  Conroy's name but the poverty stricken illiterate students he was sent to teach. Conroy has to come to terms with the fact that not only are his students illiterate, but be he needs to teach them things as simple as basic hygiene and even to swim. He is faced with a number of challenges and is determined to succeed.

The Browning Version -- I've only seen the 1994 remake, but found a brilliant performance by Albert Finney who portrays a cantakerous old classics professor near the end of his carrer. Finney is being forced out of teaching by ill health, but recieves a most unexpected gift, a Robert Browning translation of Agamemnon from a student.  I do want to see the 1951 version of the movie and read the play.

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