6 Movies About Teachers, Outside The Classroom: On teacher’s day, we mostly remember visiting School in colorful outfits and presenting our educational instructors with a card or a bouquet and speeches expressing our gratitude towards them. But how many of us have done the same with our teachers outside of the classroom? I doubt we even think of them as teachers and prefer to use the term coach, whilst on the sports field.

Even when researching about teachers in films, the usual suspects on lists are classroom teachers and to be honest it took a real racking my brains to remember and watch all the movies where the teacher is one on the sports field or in the boxing ring or some other non-classroom teacher. These individuals as expected in such a list are unorthodox or they may even be orthodox for some but they have all been part of and shaped their pupils thereby providing us with an inspirational story on our screens.

Some of these stories are fictional and some are inspired by true events. There is no number provided next to the teacher and the film for the efforts of a teacher cannot be ranked in mere number and success.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

“Yoda (Frank Oz)”

movies about teachers yoda

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In this film, Luke Skywalker is sent to the planet Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi from Master Yoda. This seems quite straightforward but it is far from so.

Yoda proves to be an eccentric teacher who in his unique way of talking instructs Luke to not give in to self-doubt and instead focus solely on attaining success. Yoda uses a line we will be seeing in a lot of ways in this article, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Watch Stars Wars: Empire Strikes Back on Hotstar

This line is memorable for it makes us ready to be able to cast the notion of self-doubt from our minds as we seek to achieve something. Yoda further teaches Luke to not predict the future for none of them and even the audience who assume Luke’s P.O.V., are psychic. This line is a calming tool as it informs the audience and Luke that it would behoove him to think about what is on hand rather than what may come ahead. This teaching falls in line with the earlier paragraph of this section.

In our journey to success, it is important to not lose sight of the ultimate goal however it is important to not focus solely on the ultimate goal and dream about that for it will not be possible to attain if the base we are establishing for ourselves today is not rocking solid. This is only possible if we give our best in every small thing we do, in the words of Yoda… “CONCENTRATEEEE”.

Iqbal (2005)

“Mohit (Naseeruddin Shah)”

The titular character played by Shreyas Talpade is a deaf and mute farm boy who aspires to be a cricketer. His family supports him in whatever little ways they can, however, his father provides staunch opposition to anything related to cricket. Eventually, Iqbal finds himself a coach in former cricketer and village drunkard Mohit.

Mohit is initially reluctant to coach Iqbal and responds by throwing away his season ball whenever he is approached. Iqbal, however, is adamant and keeps approaching Mohit. It is tough to identify whether Mohit was testing Iqbal to see if he genuinely wanted to learn the art of pace bowling or he just wanted to stay retired.

Coach and student team up and Iqbal’s bowling impresses the selectors to such an extent that he plays for a state team in the domestic championship. He achieves this through just bowling on the fields and with a raw action that is naturally built. Like coaches in films, this coach, too, goes beyond coaching the student and even tries to convince the parent to let Iqbal play.

Iqbal is available for streaming on Netflix

This film pays tribute to the mantra of having ones natural strengths harnessed without the interference of biomechanical experts. Most cricket watchers would have heard commentators remark about how a particular bowlers action tweak has resulted in the loss of natural swing. They go on wishing that coaches would just improve on their pupils existing strength rather than tweak the action for it to be more effective in another way. Would Malinga be as effective is his slinging action had been tweaked?

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)

“Pai Mei (Gordon Liu)”

movies about teachers Pai mei

The 1,000-year-old monk features heavily in the 2nd volume of Kill Bill. He is introduced to the audience as the teacher of Elle, and the film’s protagonist Beatrix Kiddo a.k.a. The Bride.

Pai Mei comes across as the type of teacher who wants absolute obedience. You do not speak unless you are spoken to are his first words to Beatrix. He tells her that she is here to learn Kung-Fu and not linguistics.

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The, ‘she is here’ to learn part is emphasized as Beatrix is easily overpowered in combat and only spared when she admits that she wants strength like Pai Mei and without words admits she is inferior.

Related to Movies About Teachers: Dead Poets Society (1989)

In addition to teaching her the techniques, Pai Mei also ensures Beatrix eats properly and doesn’t treat her like a human unless she does so. Such lessons are only inspirational when it happens to others and on films, real-life incidents such as this would be termed as abuse and be highly controversial, but it does raise questions.

A clash of ideals could be detrimental and render the teaching process useless. Also, there would be no point of the teaching if the protégé knows things and challenges the authority of the instructor. The fact that they know and are interested should only serve to help them master what they are taught quickly and with ease.

Pai Mei is so impressed by Beatrix that he breaks his vow and teaches her the five-point palm exploding heart technique which she uses to her advantage later in the film.

The Karate Kid (1984)

“Keisuke Miyagi (Pat Morita)”

movies about teachers pat

The words of Keisuke Miyagi are reminiscent of Master Yoda’s words from Star Wars. Do or do not, there is no try. We have to learn to take a stand. By acting confused and being in two minds we will neither be here nor there. Imagine you are walking on the road, you either take the left side or right side, if you are unsure and walk in the center you will be hit. We need 100% belief in our own set goals to achieve them.

Mr. Miyagi saves Daniel LaRusso from a bunch of bullies (The Cobra Kai). As a trade for getting them to lay off him for a while, Mr. Miyagi enters Daniel into a Karate Tournament and also trains him for the same. He has one rule-ask no questions. Mr. Miyagi makes Daniel do what seems like household work (waxing the car, scrubbing the floor, painting the fence and the house) with particular hand movements. Just as Daniel is about to quit as he is sick and tired of his “karate lessons” Mr. Miyagi explains and demonstrates the importance of those tasks to karate.

We then need to believe in the methods of the teacher. They know what the long term goal is. Mr. Miyagi, by making Daniel do what seemed like menial household tasks imbibed in him the karate movements as natural actions. This style of teaching is not looked at favorably by the student as they want to know why a particular thing is being taught. However we must realize that the teacher is not stupid and doesn’t have time to waste, they also realize that the student has no time to waste and whatever is being taught is for the students benefit.

Another important lesson given here is “first learn to walk then learn to fly.” It emphasizes the need to learn things step by step.

Remember The Titans (2001)

“Herman Boone (Denzel Washington)”

Based on the real-life story of Herman Ike Boone’s undefeated streak in the 1971 high school season this film appeals even to a person like me who doesn’t understand football. This film sees Denzel Washington portray coach Herman Boone who is initially given the post of a head coach only to placate racial tensions. This is a man who faces a challenge of getting blacks and whites to get together and play as a team to keep his job as he learns that every game will be career-threatening.

Doing this is no easy task in the place where the film is set in as we are informed that there has been no race mixing since 1971. He is an honorable man and feels guilty at having unfairly usurped another man’s rightful job as he feels it will be hypocritical on his part to do the same thing which causes him to leave his previous job.

To work it is necessary for a coach to establish himself as the top dog which is exactly what Boone does.
He authoritatively informs his team that this is a dictatorship and he is the law. He sets about trying to prepare his team for the season with a grueling camp. And over there he realizes that his team won’t like each other but he wants them to respect each other. Every action of his is made for him to achieve that goal.

What’s notable about coach Boone here is that he and his defensive coordinator and former Titans Coach Yoast are willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the team. Yoast who is initially reluctant to coach returns to the team in an inferior role and Boone decides to let Yoast run defensive plays as he understands the need to maintain continuity.

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Boone is successful as the team eventually bonds together and embarks on a legendary winning run and remains close even years after their iconic season. He wins over even the staunchest opponent in Coach Yoast’s 9-year-old daughter and his integrated team is accepted by the society which had been opposed to that just a few months back.

You can watch Remember the Titans on Netflix

How this coach seemingly turns around games with such regularity with his substitutions is a tad unbelievable and seems reel however his demeanor can surely take us back to our days on the sports field or even serve as lessons to the times we are grouped with those we may not like but have to collaborate with.

Rocky I, II, III

“Mickey (Burgess Meredith)”

This character is played by Burgess Meredith who received an Academy Award nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role in the first edition of this iconic decades-spanning series. Mickey is the proprietor and head instructor of Mighty Mick’s Boxing. This is a gym which is the local training ground for boxers. He is constantly upset that Rocky has wasted his life as a collector and fights what he defines as “bums.” This sort of behavior would imply that Mickey knows that Rocky has potential but is upset about it not being realized.

When Rocky is offered a chance at the World Champion in what is seen by the world and the champ himself as about to just give the audience a good time, it is Mickey who decides to manage and teach Rocky as he remembered his days where he didn’t have a manager and does not wish for his pupil to endure the same.

When Rocky loses his first fight (the movie presents a contradictory on-screen public opinion) he is quite oddly offered a rematch Mickey once again trains him. He uses several unconventional techniques one of which is the seemingly impossible task of catching a chicken to boost Rocky’s speed in a boxing ring and makes him fight right-handed to protect an injury as well as catch the opponent off guard and eventually realize his talent and become the World Champion.

Mickey may not have been the most renowned person around nor did he have the best techniques available, but his years on the circuit combined with his familiarity with his student can serve us to be with the one coach we trust rather than moving elsewhere for better coaching. It also showed us how sometimes the old methods and the odd ones could sometimes be the most effective.

Chak De India

“Kabir Khan (Shahrukh Khan)”

Kabir Khan uses sports as a means to beat religious discrimination, sexism, and regional prejudice. Kabir Khan has spent 7 years in exile after he is vilified in the press for a sportsmanlike gesture following an error in a crunch moment on the sports field. He is appointed as coach of the Indian National Women’s team and sees it as an opportunity at redemption.

“Chaandi ko sone mein badalne ki koshish kar raha hoon” (I am trying to make silver into gold) His desire to see the team as ONE is portrayed right from the start. When the players are asked to introduce themselves and the team they play for he separates all the players who say the name of their state as he only wants players who play for INDIA. “Mujhe states ke naam na sunai dete, na dihkai dete, sirf ek mulk ka naam sunai deta hai. INDIA (I don’t hear or see the names of states, all I can hear and see is India)

He only realizes that once a team is truly a team they can be a force to be reckoned with and they finally come together. This is a hard taskmaster and he doesn’t seek to be liked. As he says to the assistant coach, that he doesn’t mind if they hate him as long as they can do that together as a team and not individuals.

His experience holds key and the journey towards redemption touches a chord amongst so many people as here it is combined with a goosebumps-inducing scene of the tricolor being raised.

This coach and teacher remind us about how sometimes a coach is one who is aiming to do what they couldn’t do during their own time. One who understands the agony of defeat and one who is aiming to live his dream through the success of his students. In their success is the teacher’s success.

Most of these films follow the traditional path of a sports film which is disillusioned team- inspirational head coach- clash of ideals- motivational speech- iconic winning run. Such things may only happen in the movies, but aren’t movies are supposed to be an escape from complete reality which only reflects reality in some aspect to present us with things that aren’t completely real life. These films can serve as an inspiration and no matter how convenient the script might make the journey of the character, do remember that real-life inspires reel life.

Honorable mention: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) – Million Dollar Baby

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