Remember those good old days when you applied for teacher training? When you were all dewy-eyed and fresh-faced? When you’d enthuse wildly about shaping young lives? You may be older and wiser now, but there’s still hope: turn to these fictional teachers to help re-stoke your teaching spark!
Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda
Roald Dahl had a talent for writing about particularly gruesome teachers, so Miss Honey is something of a surprise. She is sweet and warm and kind, and has her pupils’ best interests at heart. She recognises Matilda’s extraordinary talents and is determined to nurture them: surely one of the most important qualities a teacher can have.
John Keating in Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society
There are few films that make teaching seem as inspiring and rewarding as Dead Poets Society. From the moment Keating walks into the classroom and gets the students to tear out the pages of their text books, the audience is hooked. He is everything an inspirational teacher should be: rebellious, exciting, kind and bold. And if you can sit through the Oh captain, my captain moment without weeping, then you have a heart of stone.
Mr Chips in James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr Chips
The eponymous and unlikely hero of Hilton’s novella is a good, kind man, who devotes his life to his students. His unhappy personal life (he loses his wife and child in childbirth) makes him a tragic figure, but he doesn’t allow the loss to define his life. He becomes an institution at his school, and is remembered fondly by his pupils. What more can a teacher ask for?
Dumbledore in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Formidable wizard, wise counsellor and revered headmaster, Dumbledore commands respect from all who know him. But he’s not over-serious: he has a mischievous side which makes him even more endearing to his students. He allows Harry and his friends to make mistakes and to learn from them, but when the going gets tough, he’s there to save the day.
Dewey Finn in Richard Linklater’s School of Rock
OK, he may not actually be a qualified teacher, and he may have some dubious teaching practices, but no-one could argue that Dewey Finn doesn’t engage his students. The hapless drop-out, who pinches his friend’s supply-teaching gig and uses it as an opportunity to form a rock band from members of his class, is an inspiration. If only there were a way to transform that passion for rock into a passion for algebra…
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