I despise the depiction of teachers in film. "The Dead Poet Society"? I wanted to vomit and would have run from the theater had I not been in attendance with a group of friends. "Mr. Holland's Opus?" Richard Dreyfuss should have been beaten. "Dangerous Minds?" What? An alternative school with Michelle Pfeiffer? Yeah...yeah that was believable. I liked the part where a student crept into her apartment window----and she let him stay.
Most films about teachers are horribly maudlin. I can imagine my kids sitting at home and watching Robin Williams reading poetry and commenting: "Yeah, that's sort of how Stew is..only more sensitive, more understanding." I can picture them watching "The Great Debaters" and whispering: "Stew's like that...only more inspirational."
Okay..so who are the best teachers on celluloid? The following is a top seven in no special order, from a teacher's perspective. Now keep in mind I teach alternative education, so....it might be a little twisted.
1. Jon Stewart as Prof. Furlong from "The Faculty", a school where the staff has been taken over by aliens and the student population truly has something to fear.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Det. John Kimball from "Kindergarten Cop". Okay. Arnold was actually a cop undercover as a teacher, but hey, you have to give him points for making a bunch of kindergarden students cry. "IT IS NOT A TUMAH!!!""YOU LACK DISCIPLINE!!!"
3. Ben Stein as the un-named Economics Teacher in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off". Not a big role, but who can resist the dead stare of a veteran educator who has dealt with indulged adolescents for way too long. "Who can tell me about what GNP stands for? Anyone? Anyone?"
4. Ray Walston as Mr. Hand in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Here was a teacher's teacher. A rather sadistic individual who gave out failing grades with aplomb. No ego too fragile to shatter.
5. Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi. Okay...maybe more of a tutor but the guy taught both Darth Vader AND his son. Montessori? There is no try, there is only DO.
6. Tom Hanks as Capt. John H. Miller in "Saving Private Ryan". Okay, he wasn't a teacher in the film, but hey, if I'm going to be represented by someone let it be Tom Hanks. Apparently before the war, Miller was an English teacher at Thomas Alva Edison High School in Addley, Pennsylvania.
7.Alan Rickman as Severus Snapes in the Harry Potter series. Yeah, he's not a nice guy, and he's going to be doing some awful things...but come on...the man knows how to inspire youngsters.