Teachers' Day Special: 10 flicks that beautifully capture student-teacher relationships

Friday, 5 September 2014 - 6:35am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Few of the best films set in classrooms have taught us much about life in the span of a few hours that we do in our real lives. The inspirational value apart, they also entertain. And all of the films listed here do that. So, mark your attendance, dim the lights, get schooled.

Dead Poets Society (1989)
Lessons to be learnt: Sieze the day (Carpe diem)
Story: A former student at an elite prep school returns to teach English, instills a love of poetry in his students, coaxes them to seize the day and urges them to look at the world in a different way, to open up their minds to new possibilities.
Why watch: Set in the 50s, it looks at the rigid mores of the times and criticises them. Robin Williams as John Keating, puts in one of his most memorable performances. Some scenes, especially the one at the end, after he's fired and the students break into Walt Whitman's O Captain My Captain, is particularly moving.

Freedom Writers (2007)
Lessons to be learnt: Never to give up despite the odds being stacked against you
Story: Erin Gruwell is an idealist achiever who has never failed at anything. She takes up a job, hoping to share her love of literature with at-risk students. She breaks down their walls of racism by telling them about the Holocaust even helping them bring in a survivor to share her experiences
Why watch: It's definitely entertaining and yet real. You relate to Erin's frustrations and feel for the children who have faced much in their young lives.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Lessons to be learnt: Anybody can be awesome. Never underestimate your potential.
Story: A portly, good-humoured and somewhat geeky panda, Po wants nothing but to be there when one of his heroes (The Furious Five) is made the Dragon Warrior, a protector of his village and of kung fu. To his shock, he's anointed with the title by the sagely Master Oogway. The Five's teacher, Master Shifu is dejected and disappointed but reluctantly teaches his new pupil anyway.
Why watch: To enjoy Po's awesomeness. But seriously, watch this one with your kid to help him/her pick up life's lessons early and to understand that there is a hero within all of us. And to do so, without being boring.

Mr Holland's Opus (1995)
Lessons to be learnt: Perseverance makes all the difference. Each student has different gifts, help them play up their strengths
Story: Glenn Holland would rather be a composer than teach music at a school. But he has to do the latter, to make ends meet. At the same time, he hopes he will find the time to create a symphony. But as the years pass, his students take precedence in his life.
Why watch: Richard Dreyfuss, as Holland, makes a compelling point. Sharing your passions enables those you teach to learn to love it as much as you and for the right reasons. Life doesn't always go the way he want it to. But dreams do come true in unexpected ways.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Lessons to be learned: In Eddie Dupris' words, "If there's magic in boxing... it's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."
Story: Egged by Eddie Dupris, his sole employee (and possibly his only friend), boxing trainer Frankie Dunn finds himself reluctantly coaching a prospective prize pugilist in the form of amateur boxer Maggie Fitzgerald. He trains her enough to challenge the women's welterweight champion of the world.
Why watch: To see Clint Eastwood (Frankie), Hilary Swank (Maggie) and Morgan Freeman (Eddie) create movie magic.

School of Rock (2003)
Lessons to be learned: Learn to love and appreciate music. Working as a team will help you achieve the seemingly impossible.
Story: About Dewey Finn (Jack Black) a wannabe rock star who gets kicked out of his band. Desperate for work, he poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school and convinces talented fifth graders to take part in a battle-of-the-bands contest.
Why watch : Because it's a joyride, a learning experience not only for the teacher but also his students. Dewey has no redeeming qualities and the only thing going for him is his love and passion for rock and roll. He manages to get a bunch of over-achievers who lack focus and patience to use their skills together and works as a team. Something we can all take heart from.

Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Lessons to be learned: It's never too late to learn. Never let anything limit you
Story: The young, new teacher at a school for the hearing impaired, James Leeds (William Hurt) discovers the talented Sarah Norman (Maitlee Marlin), a former student at the school, serving as a cleaner. He finds that she's exemplary at sign language and wants her to start 'talking'.
Why watch: Maitlee is splendid as Sara and is deaf in real life as well. Watching her and Hurt and their chemistry together is moving and will probably sensitise you to the insecurities of and the difficulties faced by someone with no power of hearing.

Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)
Lessons to be learned: This one is for the teachers. Strictness doesn't always work. Sometimes, you need to be less rigid and more accepting of the students you teach. That way they will respect and like you.
Story: About Mr Chipping, a former teacher of Latin, who spends his entire life at the school, hoping to one day become headmaster. His strictness becomes a matter of legend and he manages to teach several generations.
Why watch: This one got the lead actor Robert Donat the Best Actor Oscar that year. The story, based on a 1934 novel by James Hilton, is guaranteed to bring a tear to any teacher's eye. Watch this one with the strictest teacher you had in school.

Front Of The Class (2008)
Lessons to be learned: Close to the end of the movie, Brad asks his audience, 'What could I possibly have to learn from a disability?'. His students answer that question by raising their hands. Their answers? You learn to keep going. You learn not to let it stop you. You learn not to let it win.
Story: Based on the book by Brad Cohen, Front Of The Class is a made-for-TV movie that tells the story of a man with Tourette Syndrome, who with the help and support of his mother and school principal, becomes an award winning teacher, after several rejections because of what others see as a disability.
Why watch: James Wolk is convincingly sincere as Cohen and the latter has accepted that the portrayal of him is "very, very authentic". That apart, it's a feel-good family film that teaches you never to let your disability limit you in any way.

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