Why do we love movies about education and teaching so much? Our formative years are a time where most of us make memories that we’ll carry with us for a long time, as it’s when our identities are shaped. Movies that revolve around teachers and students are often filled with nostalgia, and tackle themes like growing up, finding oneself, standing up for our beliefs and overcoming hardships.
Films about education and teaching often take us back to a special time in our lives and make us think about the friendships we made and the obstacles we overcame – not to mention, they are often compelling watches. We made a list of 5 movies that capture the essence of teaching in unique and inspiring ways! Find them all below in no particular order!
1. Dead Poets Society (1989)
“Oh captain, my captain.” We hear that line all the time in the most unexpected of places – just this month, we heard it in The Marvels! But there are so many more quotable lines in Dead Poets Society, a film that has earned its place as one of the very best movies about education. This film is set in 1959 and takes place at the conservative and strict Welton Academy, an all-male prep school in Vermont that has just welcomed a new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), and let’s just say that he doesn’t exactly fit in. John’s methods are more unconventional than what the students are used to, and his very first lesson sees him asking the students to rip out a chapter of their literature book. Why? Because Professor Keating believes that teaching students to “seize the day” and live their lives to the fullest to be much more important than what’s written in the books.
And so, our students – particularly four of them, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd (Ethan Hawke), Josh (Knox Overstreet), Charlie (Gale Hansen) – begin to learn that their lives matter, and start chasing their dreams. Even over thirty years after its release, Dead Poets Society is as timely as ever, exploring themes of individuality, non-conformity, and the importance of personal freedom while making us think about our own lives and dreams. It’s anchored by a fantastic Robin Williams performance, and it’s filled with memorable moments and quotes.
2. The Ron Clark Story (2006)
The recent news of Matthew Perry’s passing has made many fans want to revisit some of the FRIENDS star’s work, and if you’re looking for an inspirational watch that not many people know about, we recommend The Ron Clark Story. This Emmy-nominated TV movie is about a small-time teacher named Ron Clark who leaves a secure job in his hometown to teach at one of New York’s toughest schools.
Clearly written for TV, The Ron Clark Story doesn’t reinvent the teaching movie formula, and it has some tonal issues, especially when it attempts to be more lighthearted, as not all of its jokes land. But if you’re looking for something light that will allow you to rediscover one of Matthew Perry’s lesser known film, it will still make for an enjoyable watch, even more so as it’s based on the true story of educator Ron Clark.
3. Freedom Writers (2007)
Freedom Writers stars Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell, a teacher who takes on the challenge of teaching a class of at-risk students in Long Beach, California. The film is inspired by a true story and explores the impact of gang violence and racial tension on education. While it’s definitely more than a little formulaic and also a product of its time, it’s still worth watching for a fantastic turn from Hilary Swank and a couple of moments worth remembering.
4. The Great Debaters (2007)
Denzel Washington stars in a movie that he also directs, chronicling the journey of the Wiley College debate team as they challenged racial discrimination in the 1930s through their eloquence and intellectual prowess. Washington plays Melvin B. Tolson, a teacher at this predominantly Black college who one day decides to start a debate team, which was unheard of at the time. Overcoming various challenges, including the father of one of his students (Forest Whitaker), he finally manages to put together a team and even enter the championship against the prestigious Harvard debate team.
You might be more familiar with Washington’s acting work, but he is also a very talented filmmaker. His best work behind the camera is in the acclaimed Fences (2016), but this 2007 gem is perfect to get you acquainted with his directing style, and it also works as a showcase of his talent and range as an actor. Not to be missed.
5. Like Stars on Earth (Taare Zameen Par) (2007)
Aamir Khan & Amole Gupte
You’ve probably never heard of Like Stars on Earth, and you’re in for a real treat! Available to watch on Netflix in most country, Like Stars on Earth is about an unconventional art teacher named Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) who changes the life of a dyslexic child when he arrives at his boarding school, helping him find his path in a world where academic success is very traditional and narrowly defined. The film is a reminder of the unique challenges some children face in the education system, and it’s also a very enjoyable, entertaining watch with stellar performances. We guarantee you’ll love it!
The 5 movies about education and teaching listed above were released on different years and offer a variety of topics for you to choose from, whether you’re looking for a good dose of nostalgia or to complete an assignment – speaking of which, if you need a reliable paper writing service to create a movie review for you, address WriteMyPaperHub. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted watch or a thought-provoking one, the films listed above should do the trick, and you might even find yourself watching some of them again very soon. Happy watching!