Are these really the best teachers in movies and TV? I asked a real teacher…

There have been dozens of inspiring teachers in the history of movies and television
There have been dozens of inspiring teachers in the history of movies and television

I received a press release at the end of last week from TeachFirst – an organisation that provides on-the-job training for those wishing to take part in teaching. The list purported to show the 10 most inspiring teachers in the history of movies and television. Some of the characters they had chosen seemed a little questionable and the justifications were odd to say the least, so I thought I’d ask a real teacher to evaluate the classroom ability of some of the names on the TeachFirst list.

So, with thanks to Neil Phipps, assistant headteacher at Blue Coat Church of England School in Coventry, let’s take a look at the best teachers in the history of films and TV, according to TeachFirst, and decide whether they deserve that level of praise.


Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)

“Dumbledore spends the entirety of Harry’s school career – or even his life – taking an unhealthy interest in a young boy, favouring him and his house, putting him at risk and never quite telling him the truth, but talking in riddles. I bet he’s never planned a lesson in his life. The fact Dumbledore loses his job twice over the course of six years is pretty serious, and that the school gets invaded by a troll, a giant spider, a hoard of death eaters and a giant snake. There’s also the fact that people get petrified, cursed and murdered regularly. It’s a wonder anyone still sends their kids to that school.”


Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey in Matilda

Miss Honey (Matilda)

“Miss Honey has no respect for authority and, although she is lovely and has some decent teaching ability (her teaching of spelling is okay) – in reality, she focuses too much on fun and expects the kids to behave because they like her. She’s far too focused on being nice to kids rather than their actual grades and she ends up developing yet again an unhealthy relationship with one child, whom she even ends up adopting.”



Jack Black as Mr S in School of Rock

Mr S/Dewey Finn (School of Rock)

“Mr S is definitely good fun in the movie, but he shouldn’t even step inside a classroom. I think everyone knows that… including Mr S.”


Edna Krabappel in an episode of The Simpsons

Edna Krabappel (The Simpsons)

“Mrs Krabappel is probably the best teacher among all of them, but you have to question why Bart has not had any remedial support by now. You’d have expected some quality intervention or permanent exclusion to have occurred considering that he is in detention in every single episode.”


Patrick Stewart as Professor X in X-Men

Professor X (X-Men)

“Professor X is decent, but wouldn’t we all be if we could read minds, control people with our thoughts (I mean, you wouldn’t have discipline issues would you?), and teach classes of four or five as he seems to do? In fact, he’s a great teacher as a result, but an absolute lunatic and terrorist when you think that he is secretly growing a set of mutant soldiers, so one would question the whole school ethos as a result.”


Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester in Glee

Will Schuester (Glee)

“Mr Schue isn’t really a teacher, is he? Not in the real world anyway. He has far too much time, you never see him stressed and, although as a drama teacher you never see him marking books until 3am, you never see him trying to teach 30 crazy year sevens who are bouncing off the walls and not wanting to be there. Try that last period on a Friday and we would all see a very different side to Mr Perfect.”


Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop

John Kimble (Kindergarten Cop)

“John Kimble is, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is what I think that all schools really need.”


And here’s the full list of inspiring movie and TV teachers, as provided by TeachFirst…

  1. Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris/Michael Gambon) in Harry Potter
  2. Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz) in Matilda
  3. Dewey Finn (Jack Black) in School of Rock
  4. Edna Krabappel (Marcia Wallace) in The Simpsons
  5. Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) in To Sir, With Love
  6. Professor X (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy) in X-Men
  7. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) in Glee
  8. Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) in Modern Family
  9. Miss Grotke (Allyce Beasley) in Recess
  10. John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in Kindergarten Cop

    Which movie and TV teachers are your favourites? Do you agree with Neil’s take on the teachers on this list? Let me know in the comments section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.