Education: Hollywood Style

By Tammy Trail

I truly could not think of a single topic on the subject of education that had not already been addressed by my lovely crew members.

I began to wonder about teachers who had made a difference in the lives of their students. Teachers who love their profession, and were willing to sacrifice for those they taught. The kind that became the inspiration for stories told on the big screen.

Freedom Writers“Freedom Writers” is a true story based on the experiences of Erin Gruwell and her class of high school students at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School. This dynamic teacher sees how much segregation, poverty, and lack of support affects her students. To combat their own racism, she teaches them about the holocaust. Survivors of the holocaust come and talk to her class, and she takes them on a field trip to the “Museum of Tolerance.” She is willing to work extra jobs to provide more books, and journals for her class. In their journals, the students write about abuse, watching a friend die, or being evicted.

When she is told she can no longer teach her class, Erin fights to keep her students, convincing the superintendent to allow her to teach those students for their junior and senior years. Erin Gruwell’s success is proven with many of her students graduating high school, and going on to attend college. What I liked about this teacher is her willingness to do whatever it took to see her students succeed.

To Sir, with LoveI love Sidney Poitier. One of my favorite movies in which he plays a teacher is “To Sir, with Love.” Mark Thackeray is an unemployed engineer from British Guyana. He applies for a job in his chosen field, but until he receives an offer of employment he is awarded a position as a teacher in an east London school. His class has the reputation for running off qualified teachers, and are mostly comprised of kids who have been expelled from other schools. After one very offensive moment in class, he decides that he will treat them as adults and whatever they want to discuss as adults will be done for the rest of the year. What I remember most about this movie is the way this teacher kept his cool with the class even when they baited him to get angry. I know it’s still Hollywood, but I was so impressed. Mr. Thackeray taught his students about life; how to find a job, fill out a resume, and to dress to impress. He even had a very attractive female teacher teach the young ladies about make-up, clothing, and how to act like a lady.

In the end the students fell in love with him. He decides not to take the engineering job he was offered, but instead to remain at the school as a teacher.

Mr. Holland's OpusAnother movie that is a family favorite is “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Glenn Holland is a man with a dream, to write the great American Symphony. Unfortunately, writing music takes time, perseverance, and no distractions. In order to provide for his family, Glenn Holland takes a job as a music teacher in a school that does not support the arts. He inspires his students using rock and roll as a way to help them appreciate classical music. Through the course of his teaching life, we see Glenn Holland inspire many of his students into great life choices, while other aspects of his life become more stressful. His life takes an ironic turn when he and his wife learn that their son, Cole is born deaf. For a man who relates to life through music, this is a disappointment.

What I like about this story is the fact that he loves what he does. He overcomes obstacles using his musical skills, and the ending is my favorite, because we finally get to hear his symphony, his old students return to play for him, and he has reconciled with this son.

I know there are other movies with educational themes that are just as worthy to mention, these just happen to be the ones I remember most.

Who are some of your favorite “Hollywood” teachers?

Greatest Movies Of All Time (IMHO)

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By Robin E. Mason

Welcome to Writing Prompt Crew’s July feature presentation: The Greatest Movies Ever (IMHO) So many to choose from, so little time… In the grand scheme of things, really, there’s only a hundred years of movies – that’s not so much. Right? In my personal grand scheme, there’s, well, less than a hundred years! Still, all the choices!

So, what qualifies as “greatest movie?” Epic? Family favorite? Meaningful? Tear jerker? Edge of your seat horror? Box office hit? All of the above? In contemplating this post, so very many titles come to mind, too many to list ‘em all. Some are standbys, some are clean, feel-good movies. Some are gripping [I’m not into horror, they don’t really scare me and simply don’t interest me.] But a good adventure or crime story, I’m all about that. Love stories are classic, and there’s a whole lot of those, some great ones, some not so great… I’m kind of fond of the remakes of fairy tales, both animated [well done animated] and not. My favorite retelling of the Cinderella story, for instance, is Everafter.

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Of course, can’t forget Tyler Perry’s Madea movies! Any and all of ‘em!! LOL “Old woman, PUT MY CAR DOWN NOW!” Bonus points if you can tell me which Madea movie that’s from.

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However, my all-time favorite movie – and therefore, the greatest IMHO – is The Sound of Music. That opening, on the mountain top, that music, those opening words, “The hills are alive…” resonates deeply within me. Whether this stirred an innate passion for the outdoors and the mountains, or created it within me, being on a mountaintop, or near a river, is a cathedral to me, a communion moment with God.

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Also ranking in my all-time top fav’s are, in no particular order, Robinhood, Prince of Thieves [it’s a Keven Costner thing]; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Top Gun; and Brave. And Pride and Prejudice, also for the man, Colin Firth, of course.

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I know, I know, where, you ask, are the classics? Casa Blanca, Gone with the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz? Certainly, they are among The Greatest Movies of All Time! Of course, they are! As are Princess Bride and The Lord of the Rings.

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In nearly a hundred years of filmography, I’ve named a bare few. Ones that stand out to me, or mean something personal. My grandgirls and I watch Brave every time they’re both here, it’s tradition [a line from Everafter…] Top Gun is my son’s all-time fav – he can recite the entire movie.

What are your favorites? What ranks top on your list?

Writing Prompt [pick one]

  1. Rewrite a favorite scene from your favorite movie. Change the actors, or don’t.
  2. Write the opening scene to the movie of your life. Who are the actors? What is the theme music? What is the setting, year, location?

And GO!

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