Top 10 Top Inspirational Movies for Educators

Educators need to be reminded of the importance of their jobs. Here are ten movies that inspire us and make us feel proud to be in the field of education where we really do have an impact. Enjoy!
1. Stand and Deliver
The classic teacher movie whose message is very important in today’s society: never believe that students are unable to learn. Instead of teaching to the lowest common denominator, Edward James Olmos in a true story as Jaime Escalante sets his sights much higher, getting them to pass the AP Calculus exam. Excellent, enjoyable choice.

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2. Dangerous Minds
Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent as real-life former marine Louanne Johnson. Teaching English in a tough inner-city school, she reaches the “unteachable” through caring and understanding. Very true-to-life, Dangerous Minds does not fall into sentimentality but instead teaches us of the importance of making our own choices and not allowing circumstances to rule us.

3. Lean on Me
Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, the real-life bat-wielding Principal whose goal was to bring discipline and learning to Eastside High School in New York. While he was not always the easiest on the teachers, it would sure be nice if more Principals stressed the importance of discipline and learning in their schools as he did. This film shows the importance of having strong leadership at the top.

4. Mr. Holland’s Opus
This memorable movie gives all teachers hope that they truly have an impact on their students. Richard Dreyfuss is wonderful as a musician/composer who must take a teaching job to support his family. In the end, Dreyfuss’ character realizes that he has had as much if not more of an impact from his teaching as he would have as a composer.

5. Dead Poet’s Society
Robin Williams gives an awesome performance as an unconventional English teacher in a very conventional (read conservative) private school. His love of poetry and his inspiring teaching methods have a great impact on his students. The central message of the movie, to live life to the fullest everyday, is not lost. Further, Williams’ poetry recitations are awe-inspiring.

6. To Sir With Love
Produced in 1967, this film with Sidney Poitier as a novice teacher has a lot to teach us today. Poitier takes a teaching position in the rough part of London in order to pay his bills. Realizing that his students need to be taught important life lessons more than the curriculum he has been handed to teach them, he throws out the lesson plans and makes a real impact on their personal lives.

7. The Miracle Worker
The ultimate teaching miracle, Anne Bancroft is awesome as Annie Sullivan who uses ‘tough love’ to get through to the deaf and blind Helen Keller played by Patty Duke. Very few people can watch the famous ‘water’ scene without experiencing a feeling of triumph and relief. Excellent portrayal of the importance of perseverence. Both Bancroft and Duke won an Academy Award for their performances.

8. Renaissance Man
Danny Devito’s performance as a teacher of the ‘Double-D’s’ is both humorous and inspired. What appears to be a light-hearted comedy truly has a deeper meaning. Devito’s character proves that William Shakespeare still has much to teach students. Surprisingly clean and somewhat corny at times, Renaissance Man in the end teaches important life lessons on responsibility and character.

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9. Music of the Heart
This film shows the influence that one person’s drive and vision can have on others. Meryl Streep plays real-life Roberta Guaspari who moves to Harlem as a single-mother and becomes a violin teacher. Working through racial and other barriers, Roberta creates an acclaimed music program in an area where many would have said it was impossible. Definitely a heart-warming movie.

10. The Karate Kid
While not normally thought of as a ‘classroom’ movie, The Karate Kid has much to say to teachers: Sometimes we have to have our students do things that they will not understand until much later; Basic skills are most important; Honor and integrity are central to character; Students need to see us beam with excitement over their achievements. A fun, nostalgic and inspiring movie to relish.

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