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Compiling the Perfect High School Faculty from Cinema's Greatest Teachers

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | October 25, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | October 25, 2010 |

Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) Hamlet II — Drama: Who wouldn’t want a drama teacher with enough courage to put on a production of Rock Me, Sexy Jesus, where Jesus uses a time machine to save Gertrude and Ophelia?

Mr. Furlong (Jon Stewart) The Faculty — Science: It’s kind of the perfect science teacher, if you’re like me and you hate science. He’s a parasite, so you’re allowed to kill him, preferably with a pen to the eye.

Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) Rushmore — Remedial Reading: She’ll break your heart, and maybe mess around with your mentor, but she’s very pretty to look at, and she’s from Harvard.

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) Half Nelson — History Teacher and Coach: Who wouldn’t want a history teacher who could not only teach you about dialectics, but after class, he’ll smoke a rock with you.

Mr. Kerber (Vincent Schiavelli) Better Off Dead — Math: Any teacher that can elicit the sort of enthusiasm that Mr. Kerber could in his geometry class has to be the kind of teacher you’d want. Be warned, however: He might try to ask out your girlfriend.


John Keating (Robin Williams) Dead Poets Society — English and Literature: He’ll teach you about the classics (a little too much Whitman for my taste) and how to think outside the box. However, you might find yourself doing so much soul searching, thanks to his provoking classroom lessons, that you put a bullet in your head.

Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) Notes on a Scandal — Art Teacher: If you’re good looking enough, Sheba will sleep with you, and she’ll even endure a psychologically torturous relationship with an older teacher in order to cover up the affair. That’s commitment to sex with a minor.

Geoffrey Canada (himself) Waiting for Superman — Principal: Seriously, folks. This guy is amazing. Not only is he a central figure in both documentaries, The Lottery and Waiting for Superman, but he created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a social experiment that President Obama is currently trying to roll out in 20 inner cities across the nation. Basically, Canada believes that the best way not to leave a child behind is to start their education essentially from birth so that they’re never in a position to have to catch up in the first place. And it’s not just reading and math lessons; it’s attire, demeanor, violence prevention, social services, and a huge network of supportive adults who know what it takes to succeed surrounding these kids from the very beginning. It starts with workshops for parents with children 0-3, then goes to all-day pre-K classes, followed by charter schools. It’s worked, too. Canada has eliminated the achievement gap between his black students at Promise Academy and the average white students in New York City, and he does so by working on broader issues like economic inequality. Maybe it’s paternalistic, and maybe the idea of injecting white middle-class values into inner cities is not ideal, not if you don’t want to whitewash America. But still … it’s working. And it’s working better than anything else that educators have attempted to get through the federal education bureaucracy.

And yes: This was an elaborate rouse to get you to read Prisco’s Waiting for Superman review and go out and see the film. It’s a brilliant, thought-provoking documentary that does more to raise awareness about our current education policy than any hack politician could ever do. We don’t champion a lot of films around here, but Waiting for Superman is one that deserves it.

(H/T Kevin Longrie)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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