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Our Three Favorite Films About English Teachers


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If you ask a group of people what they remember about their English teacher, chances are everyone is going to have a different answer.  The same seems to be true of English teachers in movies. There are so many angles, perceptions and experiences that it’s impossible to fit the entire image of a teacher, especially an English teacher into one particular genre or even one movie. Here are a few movies that gave it their best shot.

Dead Poets Society

A Robin Williams classic: Dead Poets Society is about an English teacher that bounces onto the scene of an upscale, elite prep school and shakes things up a little. John Keating, played by Williams, is constantly preaching the principal of “carpe diem” and through his eccentric and expressive teaching methods he uses English literature to inspire his students to push the limits of what they thought they were capable of and what the world around them says is possible.

Donnie Darko

The other end of the English classroom spectrum, Donnie Darko is a reflection of the more sinister side of human nature that English literature so often explores.  In this movie Drew Barrymore plays Karen Pomeroy, the English teacher who assigns the reading of a short story called “The Destructors” which is subsequently accused of influencing one of the students to damage a water main and flood the school gym.

The English Teacher

The most recent addition the list of teacher films, The English Teacher is the quirkier side of English education. Julian Moore plays Linda Sinclair, a high school English teacher who excels professionally but personally is withdrawn and lonely. When one of her former students returns to their hometown after a failed attempt at being a play writer, it is Linda who must step out of her comfort zone in order to give her student the encouragement he needs to not give up on his dream.

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