Education on the big screen: 5+1 Film Suggestions

Translated by Elisavet Kechagia

Based on the original article by Αγγελική Χτενέλη

Within a realistic setting and with no intention of beautifying reality, there have been many cinematic educators whom we have admired, and have constituted the inspiration for both educators and students. The film suggestions below are movies that provide food for thought, dialogue and self-examination.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Robin Williams in his role as an English professor, teaches poetry to a men’s college where students come from conservative families. He however, by boosting their confidence encourages them by means of unconventional teaching methods to defy the status quo and pursue their repressed desires. Poetry ultimately becomes the reference point in their lives, and thus exists through them.

The canary yellow bicycle (1999)

A young teacher has been appointed as the sixth grade teacher to a public elementary school in Athens, where he meets Lefteris, a nearly illiterate child isolated from his classmates. He however is the one to recognize his sensitivity and potential, and thus undertakes the initiative to help him despite the obstacles that he has to confront, from the negativity of his co-workers, the un-supportive parents, to even Lefteris’ own disbelief. His single aim is to equip him with the motivation to try.

Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Julia Roberts as a professor in a women’s private liberal arts college, aspires to break the stereotypes revolving around the position of women through modern art, inciting her students to follow a career and not limit themselves to the role of the housewife. Her rebellious ideas, being naturally in stark opposition to the conservative protocol of the college, create problems to her work.

The Chorus (2004) 

The phrase “every action causes a reaction”, meaning that every mischief would be met by punishment, was the key principle implemented unsuccessfully by the principal of a French school for troubled and orphaned boys. Finally, with the arrival of music teacher Mathieu who descries the unique talents of each student, the school changes dramatically.

Like Stars on Earth (2007)

An Indian film production aspiring to sensitize the public about dyslexia by presenting under a realistic light the true nature of the phenomenon and the way in which dyslectic students like little Ishaan are wrongly treated. Nikumbh, Ishaan’s teacher, is the one who will on a first level prove that special teaching methods can boost the child’s learning performance. On a second level, he will strive for Ishaan’s acceptance by the school environment as well as that of his parents, because after all.. they have something in common.

Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

Upon the suicide of a teacher of a Canadian elementary school, Monsieur Lazhar from Algeria self-appoints himself as her replacement. Loving both his job and his students, Lazhar tries to be there for them and help them deal with the loss while facing his own demons from the past. The film is about a teacher who attempts to present the meaning of life beyond what is stated in the curriculum.

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