With Bad Teacher Cameron Diaz hoped to add to the list of bizarre onscreen teachers we’ve seen over the past few decades. While it’s fun to see bad people hold positions typically reserved for good-natured role models, we prefer characters whose influence is a little more positive. So while Diaz is in Home Room smashing kids’ faces in with rubber balls, we will be in Room 101 with our favorite movie teachers, whose classes we wish we could enroll in next fall.
Everybody has a different take on what makes a great teacher. Some want a lazy, no-work goofball and others want a motivated and passionate instructor. We’ve got a little of each in the following list of five teachers we wish we’d had. There’s even a bonus tutor for your off-campus study.
NOTE: The following are our five favorites, and as the title would suggest, they are all fictional, rather than coming from movies based on real-life teachers (hence why you won’t find Lean on Me on here).
The biggest wild card in grade school has always been the music teacher. Some say it is the gym teacher or even the math instructor, but few courses allow such a wide-ranging classroom setting as music. If you are unlucky (like I was in high school), your music teacher will bore you to tears with history and technical details. But if you get Dewey Finn, great memories will fill your childhood ridiculously fast.
Finn indirectly earned his way onto this list. He scammed his way into the classroom and then took advantage of his new students for personal gain. But he also quickly realized that children can be just as inspiring as their instructors and he became one of the kids. Not many teachers have the audacity to get off their educated high horse and hang out with the students. But if you look at this list, the ones that do find a way to be a part of a child’s life, not just their childhood.
While some of the other teachers on this list seem like the kind of people you want to know outside of school, John Kimble isn’t the nicest instructor you’ll ever have. But unlike some other memorable movie substitute teachers on the mean side (like Jonathan Shale of The Substitute), this Kindergarten teacher will protect you under any circumstance. He is a tough guy on the outside, but on the inside he’ll warm up to you like a thermometer to a light bulb.
If I were in Kindergarten and I had my pick of teacher, the easy pick is John Kimble. He is like a walking jungle gym and has a hilarious accent. On top of it all, his temper is something to laugh at once you get used to it. Most importantly, Kimble has a knack for problem-solving. Anybody who can get a ragtag group of youngsters in his inaugural class to settle down clearly has the ability to teach anybody.
Although Dumbledore never really teaches a course on camera at Hogwarts, he is easily the best teacher there. The campus houses some fantastic motivators, but Dumbledore finds a way to hire the best of the best. Of course, he has had a lapse in judgment every once in a while – nobody is perfect – but he has assembled one of the best teaching corps in education today.
We’ve all heard the personal details of Dumbledore, but it goes to show you the maturity of his students and the powerful influence of his instruction. If you are lucky enough to get an invitation to study at Hogwarts, you’ll walk away with more than a diploma. Although I’m not sure the colleges looking at your application will know about Hogwarts, you will be set for a lifetime of magic and wonder. There are not many graduates who can say that.
As far as positive influences go, Professor X is one of the best. He will teach you to utilize every function your body can allow – whether that is a superpower that came to fruition during your adolescence, or simply a misguided sense of place in this crazy world. Professor X is a motivator – and the best at it. In addition to his positive outlook on life, he has one cool school. Although you’ll need to move out of your home, you’ll be staying at a mansion that has a secret laboratory underground and a hidden fighter jet under the basketball court.
If there is one problem with studying under Professor X it is his plethora of enemies. He always seems to find a way to get into trouble and those around him (namely his students) are left to defend the wheelchair-bound professor, even though he houses one of the most powerful abilities in the mutant world – he can read your mind. This also poses a problem if you ever plan on cheating on one of his likely impossible exams. And if he should ever die, you will have to face the unbearable pain of listening to Storm teach a class, using awful puns and horrid one-liners.
Imagine the Fall Semester is about to begin. You look at your curriculum and three days a week you have to take Archaeology. Most students would cringe and head to class ready for a nap. But then class begins, and if you are a female, you sit in a wooden desk only feet from the dreamiest man you’ve ever seen. You may even write “I Love You” on your eyelids. If you are a male student, you are only a few yards from the most adventurous and well-traveled hero of all time.
Few teachers have such an exciting alter-ego. Many of them have intriguing side hobbies or may even surprise you with a great story or two. But wouldn’t it be nice to find out your teacher has thwarted a Nazi plan to rule the world with unspeakable evil, or that he has outrun massive boulders and poison darts? It goes without saying, Dr. Jones is the coolest professor on the planet. And that is saying a lot, considering the previous teacher on our list has actual superpowers.
While we briefly saw Yoda teaching younglings how to use the Force during the Star Wars prequels, his greatest moment as a teacher came in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda guides the shipwrecked and distraught Luke Skywalker onto a path that eventually lead to iconic status in Jedi lore. His humor, discipline, wide range of knowledge and distraction-free environment allowed Skywalker the perfect opportunity to truly focus his skills and begin his road to destiny.
As far as movie characters go, Yoda is one of the all-time greats. He speaks in brilliant backwards prose, fits on your back like a bookbag and has hundreds of years of life experience. There is nothing about Yoda that a human being would not benefit from after just a few tutoring sessions.
While our list may not be the same as your list, there are plenty of great movie teachers that inspire students and make the classroom enjoyable. From Veronica Vaughn to John Keating, the names are aplenty, and we want you to continue the conversation below by sharing your favorites.