When it comes to education, it seems as though there are always interesting issues to discuss. Issues of inequality, teacher pay, and other hot button subjects are always being tackled. This happens in real life, of course, but it also happens in the movies. In some cases, a movie can make what goes on in real life more poignant. This is especially true if you are dealing with a documentary.
If you are interested in movies about education, you can learn a lot from the messages you find in movies. Here are 25 of the best movies about education ever made, including movies made for entertainment, and documentaries:
Hollywood Films – Entertainment
These Hollywood films about education can entertain, as well as uplift and educate. In some cases, the films are based on true stories, while in others the stories are wholly fictional. In any case, you will find that there are plenty of things to think about in terms of education — or at least remember about your own school experience.
- Dead Poets Society: This classic film about a teacher who encourages his students at a boarding school to break out of the status quo has inspired English students (and others) for years.
- Stand and Deliver: Another in the annals of classic education films, Stand and Deliver is based on the story of Jaime Escalante, the math teacher helping kids in East Los Angeles.
- To Sir With Love: In 1967, this movie was groundbreaking, sharing the story of a black man with training as an engineer who teaches white students in London.
- The Breakfast Club: These kids in Saturday detention are all defined by stereotypes. However, by getting to know each other, they are able to move beyond their own cliques and get to know each other. It’s an interesting look at the interplay between students in the education system.
- The Paper Chase: Fast-forward to college in this film from 1973. A first year law student tries to impress his professor so that he can date the professor’s daughter. Provides insights into the difficulties associated with teaching.
- Good Will Hunting: Will Hunting is a genius, but he doesn’t care to spend time in school. Instead, he hangs out with his friends and works as a janitor at MIT. However, he is discovered when he solves a difficult math problem. He eventually studies mathematics, while seeing a therapist in an attempt to get beyond some of his issues.
- Goodbye Mr. Chips: Here’s an oldie, but goodie. This educator in the 1969 musical falls for a showgirl. The two get married, and they struggle to overcome obstacles as Mr. Chips job as a staid teacher in a boys school doesn’t seem like the ideal fit for a showgirl.
- Precious: This movie, based on a book, is about an obese and illiterate girl living in Harlem. Her family is dysfunctional, and Precious has been abused physically, mentally and sexually. However, she is inspired by a teacher in an alternative high school, and fights to improve her life — and the lives of her children.
- Music of the Heart: Meryl Streep stars in this movie about the inspirational violin teacher, Roberta Guaspari, who encouraged children in New York City’s public school system. This uplifting story lets us see kids from East Harlem playing at Carnegie Hall.
- Dangerous Minds: Based on the story of LouAnne Johnson, a former U.S. Marine, Dangerous Minds tells the story of a teacher trying to encourage teens from East Palo Alto, California, to take school seriously. This movie features unorthodox teaching methods, and changes to the curriculum designed to help the teacher connect with students.
- Freedom Writers: A group of at-risk high school students is inspired to live their dreams beyond high school — while learning the value of heard work and tolerance along the way.
- Educating Rita: This working class girl inspires her jaded professor to re-connect with his passion for teaching, while exploring issues of class in society.
- School of Rock: A supremely entertaining movie about a washed up wanna-be rocker (Jack Black) who poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school. When finds that they are talented, he helps them learn about rock — and following their dreams.
The state of education in America is a subject of much debate. Documentaries made about education can be a great source of information. Watch these movies about education to learn more about different sides of the debate — and make up your mind.
- Waiting for Superman: A look at the journey of promising students through a school system that limits their academic growth potential. A review of public education.
- Teached: This education documentary by a Teach for America alum who looks at inequality in education for urban, minority youths.
- Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: Ben Stein’s look at Intelligent Design, and the lack of academic freedom to teach the concept in the classroom.
- To Be and To Have: An interesting documentary chronicling the education had in a one-room school in rural France. One teacher and students ages four to 11.
- We Are the People We’ve Been Waiting For: A look at education on global scale, and during a time of shifting paradigms. This British documentary challenges you to come up with solutions for public education today.
- Mad Hot Ballroom: Is competition in schools too intense when it comes to extracurriculars? Follow these middle school students in New York City as they compete in a ballroom dance competition.
- Spellbound: Enter the world of spelling bees, competition, and pushing children to excel. But is the cost too high?
- Race to Nowhere: This documentary looks at the impact of too much homework and emphasis on standardized tests. Can education really be one size fits all?
- Ten9Eight: This documentary looks at inner city teens across the country, from Harlem to Compton. These teens are shooting for the stars as they enter a business plan competition.
- 2 Million Minutes: This series of documentary films looks at global schools, and addresses education systems around the world.
- Please Vote for Me: An interesting documentary opening your eyes to what kids in China are taught about democracy. An exploration of democracy, our changing world, and education.
- Us and Our Education: This documentary explores learning disabilities and how they affect school and work.