And the Oscar Goes to...Mrs. Olson!

I like watching movies. If I had a week to do absolutely nothing, I'd probably go to a movie at least six of the seven days of that week. For two consecutive years in high school, I averaged seeing more than ten movies per month in theaters. I was also very involved in student government, athletics, school plays and my church group (all while maintaining a 4.0 gpa), so I'm not sure how I managed to fit that many movies into my month.

I saw a trailer for The Great Gatsby and it sent me through a flood of memories from reading books and watching movies during high school. From there, I thought of Mrs. Olson, my choir and English teacher. I point to Mrs. Olson as a tireless teacher and personal hero who encouraged me to take risks and demand more of myself.

After spending a minute thinking about my youth, I compiled a list of some movies with incredible teachers or movies that highlighted kids in teachable moments or movies with an education focus or just good flicks. I now submit that list. (Click the titles to view the corresponding IMDb entry. Short descriptions also come from IMDb .)

A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America.

Dangerous Minds
An ex-marine teacher struggles to connect with her students in an inner-city school.

Dead Poets Society
English teacher John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.

Finding Forrester
An afro-american teen writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author.

Freedom Writers
A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.

Good Will Hunting
Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT, has a gift for mathematics but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips
A shy, withdrawn English schoolteacher falls for a flashy showgirl.

Lean on Me
The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school that he is determined to improve.

Mr. Holland's Opus
A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.

October Sky
The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

School Ties
A Jewish boy goes to an elite prep school in the 1950's and hides his religion until a jealous bigot forces it out in the open.

Stand and Deliver
The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

The Breakfast Club
Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.

The Miracle Worker
The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.

The Paper Chase
A first-year law student struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of a stern professor.

To Sir, With Love
Idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London's East End.

Waiting for Superman
Education "statistics" have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily. Follow a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth.

And a few silly flicks:


Easy A

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

High School Musical

Kindergarten Cop

Mean Girls

School of Rock

...and check out the very cool marketing site for Monsters University (coming this June!) here:

I've surely missed other great films featuring education. What movies would you add or remove from the list? And how many lawns did I mow to earn enough money to see so many movies!

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