The Top Ten Fictional Teachers
Teachers have long-lasting effects on us --- even teachers from movies, television shows and books! That’s because these fictional teachers embody the traits that make real-life teachers great: They use their creative and innovative skills to motivate us while grabbing our attention. These 10 teachers, in no particular order, all exert positive energy, passion and creativity. Thus, they have a profound impact on their fictional students, but also on us as an audience. Who is your favorite?
Mr. Hand, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
“Food will be eaten on YOUR time. Why are you continuously late for this class, Mr. Spicoli? Why do you shamelessly waste my time like this?”
Mr. Hand originally comes off as a stereotypical hard-nosed disciplinarian of a teacher. His class is run his way and there is no getting around that. Although he was a tough guy, his methods can provide inspiration to teachers everywhere -- particularly his willingness to take the extra step in order to help his students in the long run. He goes out of his way to help his troubled student Spicoli pass history by tutoring him one-on-one at home.
Dewey Finn, School of Rock
“I have been touched by your kids... and I'm pretty sure that I've touched them.”
At first glance, Dewey Finn may not seem like the ideal role model for teacher, but he turns out to have quite a positive impact on his students’ lives. As a substitute teacher, he finds a way to motivate his class in many non-conventional, though effective ways. While teaching his students to believe in themselves, he paves the road for alternative hands-on forms of learning, demonstrating that, while pedagogy is important, being creative may be paramount.
Charles Xavier, X-Men
“There's so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There's good in you too, and you can harness all that.”
Charles Xavier in X-Men is the ultimate role model. In essence, he leads a fight for civil rights equality and helps wayward children find direction. He is considered a visionary and a promoter of peace. His leadership could provide inspiration not just to teachers, but to anyone who wishes to promote equality and justice.
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter
“It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Being a great teacher is equal parts being a leader and being a friend. Albus Dumbledore a power that commands respects from his peers, yet he becomes a mentor to Harry Potter and provides him with the guidance and ability to overcome challenges in his personal life. Because of this commitment not only to education, but to a student’s well-being and his life beyond the classroom, Dumbledore will go down as one of the most famous teachers in film history.
Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski, The Wire Season 4
“Trick ‘em into thinking they aren't learning, and they do.”
“Prez” may be one of the most daring teachers on this list. He not only became a public school teacher in inner city Baltimore but previously worked as a police officer. Both occupations show Roland’s commitment to changing Baltimore for the better. As a police officer, he notices that crime and education have a strong correlation in Baltimore, and begins working on the other end of the equation. With this dedication and this insight, he’s able to connect with his students and, hopefully, guide them to a brighter future.
Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Indiana Jones
“You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.”
Indiana Jones isn’t your run-of-the-mill archeology teacher. Saying he was far more exciting wouldn’t even do him justice. He taught his classes to think of the box and demonstrated by doing --- in the most extreme way possible. He’s another perfect example of an unconventional teacher whose creativity, intelligence and personal drive win him success in the classroom.
“Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.”
Like Harry Potter’s Dumbledore or Gandalf from Lord of the Rings (didn’t make the cut onto this list!), Yoda’s success as a teacher extends from his skill, intelligence and experience. He is a wise educator who helps Luke learn through practice, suggesting alternative approaches and ways of thinking rather than commanding. And although we might never become Jedi Knights, the lessons and inspiration imparted by Yoda go beyond that “classroom” and can help us in our everyday lives.
Michelle MacKay, D2: The Mighty Ducks
“And when the wind blows hard and the sky is black, Ducks fly together!”
Michelle McKay has got to be the coolest tutor to ever work on the big screen. She was called upon to keep this group of determined hockey players up to par with their studies while traveling and playing. She was not only able to fill the educational void created by the team’s away games, but also filled in as coach during one game when Gordon Bombay is running late. Committed and multi-talented, she’s able to connect with her students/players on many levels.
Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus
“Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”
Undoubtedly, Ms. Frizzle is the favorite fictional teacher of many children (and adults). The ultimate hands-on teacher, she empowered her students to try things for themselves, and learn by trial and error. It helped that she had a magic school bus, but the real magic wasn’t in the adventures as much as it was in her inspirational guidance.
Herman Boone, Remember the Titans
“This is no democracy. It is a dictatorship. I am the law.”
Although Herman Boone is not a fictional teacher but a real-life coach who inspired a film starring Denzel Washington, he deserves recognition on this list. Boone was the ultimate hard-nosed teacher, but this was a necessary attitude for a black football coach coming into a race-torn town. By refusing to tolerate segregation, injustice or anything but the best behaviour, he was able to drive his players to achieve the best of their abilities and helped bring a community together in the process.
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This article was orginally published on BusyTeacher.org.
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