Top 10 Movies About Teachers

Everyone agrees education is important. Most people agree teachers are valuable. Few people know the difference between learning and teaching. Learning happens naturally when children are fully engaged. Teaching happens when teachers love what they do and share that enthusiasm with the children they teach.

After spending years lecturing at private schools across South Africa, including elite schools like Michaelhouse, I gained a new appreciation for education. As a product of the public school system in the Eastern Cape, the poorest province in South Africa, I overcame substantial obstacles to become a regular guest speaker at elite private boarding schools.

Award winning teacher, John Taylor Gatto reminds us it’s just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

The Ultimate History Lesson - John Taylor Gatto

To celebrate 10 years since I started my company, NETucation, here’s my top 10 movies about teachers – some great and others not so great.

  1. Stand and Deliver (1988): Together, one teacher and one class proved to America they could…Stand and Deliver. The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus. John Taylor Gatto talked about this story many times in his lectures and interviews, so I had to watch it.
  2. Mr Holland’s Opus (1995): We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life. A frustrated composer finds fulfilment as a high school music teacher. One of the most beautiful movies about how teachers can change lives.
  3. Dead Poets Society (1989): He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary. English teacher John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day. Carpe diem!
  4. Detachment (2011): A substitute teacher who drifts from classroom to classroom finds a connection to the students and teachers during his latest assignment. A powerful performance by Adrian Brody as a teacher who is broken inside.
  5. Dangerous Minds (1995): Louanne Johnson is an ex-marine, hired as a teacher in a high school in a poor area of the city. She has recently separated from her husband. Her friend, also a teacher in the school, got the temporary job for her. After a terrible reception from the students, she tries unconventional methods of teaching (using karate, Bob Dylan lyrics, etc) to gain the trust of the students.
  6. The Great Debaters (2007): A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College, Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debating team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championships. Even though this is not about school, the teaching influence is primarily in inspiring the students.
  7. Half Nelson (2006): An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret. Ryan Gosling shows glimpses of what makes him a great actor.
  8. One Eight Seven (1997): After surviving a brutal attack (the weapon used was a board with nails in it) by a student, teacher Trevor Garfield moves from New York to Los Angeles. Samuel L. Jackson is always convincing as an authority figure.
  9. Freedom Writers (2007): A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school. Some parts of this movie appeal to the sentimental part of me.
  10. To Sir, With Love (1967): About an idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London’s East End.

Honourable mentionRushmore (1998): The film is a personal favourite because the main character reminds me of myself. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a precocious and eccentric 15-year-old, who is both Rushmore’s most extracurricular and least scholarly student, and his businessman friend Herman Blume (Bill Murray) both fall in love with the same female teacher.

More than any other, I recommend you watch The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend with John Taylor Gatto, free on Youtube. And if you enjoy it support the Tragedy and Hope community who produced it and receive a discount using the coupon code “RAMONTHOMAS” below.



Three Ways To Deal With Boredom

Motivational speaker Ramon Thomas South AfricaA while ago I wrote an article about how SMS relieve loneliness, stress and depression. The same advice applies well to boredom in general. John Taylor Gatto first alerted me to the pandemic of boredom in public schools. This is a cause for concern both in children and in teachers. Everyone has felt bored at some point in their life, it seems to be the way the world works now. Without this innate feeling of despondency how could we continue to fuel to the consumer driven economies of the world.

According to boredom is a noun: the state of being bored; tedium; ennui. Origin: 1850–55; bore2  + -dom Synonyms: dullness, doldrums, weariness. These dates fit perfectly into the industrial revolution’s time frames. Meaning that before that period there was no such thing in the common language of conversation. People amused themselves in a variety of ways.


When you find yourself in this position, the key is to get your body physically doing something. So the immediate task at hand can be as simple as taking a walk. This gets oxygen flowing and begins to clear your mind. In fact when you are weary you often do not feel like doing anything at all. How do you motivate yourself to keep walking? If you’re bored and it’s night time you may not want to take the risk of walking around outside.


Another option is to listen to music that gets your energy juices flowing. This is not a time for relaxation and more dullness. You can listen to dance music and get yourself into the groove being motivated to have fun. There’s saying I stole from somewhere which goes like this, “The only business we take seriously is fun…” So should you.


Instead of surfing around Youtube or Facebook, start texting or chatting on your Smartphone with a friend. This is a great way to relieve boredom because you’re engaging with a real human being and not the faceless social media sites. You are not trying to numb your senses through mindless television. Texting is two way communication. From this the other person may suggest you meet-up, which is even better than chatting over your phone. Talking to a person face to face is the most powerful way to engage.


Update on John Taylor Gatto

Author, John Taylor Gatto New York TeacherThis update was sent to us from Tragedy and Hope community newsletter on July 1, 2012:

As many of you are aware, John suffered multiple strokes in the weeks after visiting us in Connecticut and filming the Ultimate History Lesson interview. Since that time, he has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and has struggled to regain his health. I’ve spoken with his wife Janet over the last several months, and she assures me that John’s mind is as sharp as ever, although his body is still very weak, as the result of poor care at the various hospitals and rehabs that he’s been subjected to. She was visiting him daily and bringing him healthy food to balance out his diabetes, which the food the hospital’s had been giving him had exacerbated. She had to be his advocate, as the doctors who were caring for him were not adequately taking care of John. The last rehab center he was in lost his dentures, and they have yet to be replaced.

John is back at home now with Janet recovering. Their economic resources have been depleted, and they are in need of funds for medical needs and personal rehab that John’s insurance no longer covers.

Rich and I teamed up with Jerry Mintz (Founder of AERO) to help John and Janet, and organized a fundraiser through AERO (using the UHL as a premium gift for donors) to raise funds for their immediate needs, and Jerry sent out a special AERO newsletter announcing the fundraiser last Sunday.

We’re delighted to tell you that the response was overwhelming, and Jerry delivered a check to John and Janet yesterday for $7,500.00. T&H will continue to roll out fundraisers for John over the next several weeks, through our media partners and other independent media outlets. Our goal is to provide a consistent stream of revitalizing revenue to John and Janet through our outreach efforts. More details will be announced, as we catch up with the work that needs to be done for each of these efforts. Love & gratitude, Lisa

source: Tragedy and Hope Online Community