Before moving on to our Top 10 movies and TV shows that highlight education and life lessons, we’d like to address the importance of educational apps and software that are elevating the teaching and learning experience. Living and breathing in the 21st century is synonymous with the era of technology. It is highly vital to seize the opportunity to utilize these readily available tools to further expand learning horizons. This expanding phase of school software and the array of digital tools are creating a novel learning experience. Helping to enhance students’ learning experience drastically.
Gone are those days when education was just about learning from a textbook or sitting in a classroom staring at the blackboard for hours a day. Now, education has adopted a new way of imparting knowledge and art with media playing an integral role in it. Movies are not just a form of entertainment. They can also be used as a modern teaching tool to underline and address educational issues.
Films and TV shows have the ability to create an emotional and sentimental connection with their audiences. Students today can find textbooks less relatable. It can be established that mixing up learning materials to include media can truly be a powerful and effective educational tool. Children from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and races can connect. They can come together. It aids their learning allowing them to transcend beyond classroom boundaries.
Movies highlighting education
1. Freedom Writers
This inspirational movie portrays the story of a young teacher. She made an effort, jumping hurdles to encourage her students to pursue higher education. Despite them facing multitudes of challenges. Based on a true story, the teacher has to navigate through the difficult moral codes of her new class who are all persistent in protecting their own. She was initially hated by her students. However, she tries her hardest to instill the values of tolerance. Teaching them how to work hard to live a successful life after high school. A perfect depiction of a compassionate and dedicated teacher, Erin Gruwell.
The most important message is that she sets the perfect example of hurdling through obstacles in order to succeed. This was shown when she faced greater resistance, especially from her colleagues and her section head, who lives by regulations and sees such resources as “a waste”. However, that did not stop her from trying to educate them. She paid for school resources out of her own pocket when she didn’t need to. Going above and beyond despite her students’ initial behavior towards her. She wanted them to have a better chance at life.
Students who watch this movie are sure to live their dreams with hard work, dedication, and tolerance. Despite any and all hardships you have to face, it teaches viewers to always have their ultimate end goal in their minds and work towards achieving it. Truly, you can do anything you set your mind to. All it takes is action, perseverance, and facing your fears.
2. 3 Idiots
If this is a movie you haven’t heard about, now is the time to up it on your to-watch list! This hilarious yet touching film will surely have you laughing (and crying). It is the perfect embodiment of the quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Narrated in two timelines, one in the present and the other ten years in the past, the story follows the friendship of three students at an Indian engineering college and is a satire about the social pressures under an Indian education system. This movie highlights educational issues such as parental expectations, teachers’ traditional attitudes toward learning, and societal influences on the student’s educational development that have long permeated Asian society and households.
The movie revolves around the main character, Rancho whose actual name in the movie was Phunsukh Wangdu. He was the son of a servant who served Ranchhoddas Chanchad’s Father. Chanchad’s father was a wealthy man, but uneducated and wanted his son to be an educated person. However, his son didn’t share the same dream and didn’t want to further his studies, so he went abroad. Wangdu, on the other hand, was eager to learn.
Chanchad’s Father put him in college by his son’s name (Ranchhoddas Chanchad) because he wanted a degree for his son despite it only being in his name. They decided that Wangdu will study under the name of Ranchodas. Wangdu, known as Rancho until the end of the film, didn’t actually care about the “degree” and was in love with knowledge and learning. He was well-known for his phrase, all is well. There is even a catchy song on the phrase!
This movie clearly sends the message that learning is not confined to certain institutions. You CAN learn anywhere and everywhere. The success formula is to always do what you love or otherwise love what you do, which honestly most of us need to hear more often.
3. The Social Network
This is most likely a good movie for your older students to watch. We are sure that they know of Facebook (perhaps not on it but know of it since it is social media) and they would like to see how it all started. Tracing the history back to when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook and the what, with, and the why can help your students to learn the importance of being curious and trying to solve an event that excites them. But then also makes you think how far should one go for their ideas and whether what he did was right or wrong. Could there have been a better way to have created Facebook? A great way to discuss ethics in class.
Since the topic is about one of the biggest social media platforms, this would be a great way to discuss important issues connected to social media. For example, privacy issues and bullying are among a few of the cons that come with social media. Social media is. a part of our everyday lives and it is important to understand its history together with the pros and cons. It allows us to see how much social media has grown and its importance in our lives.
4. The Blind Side
Based on another true story, The Blind Side is a story of a teen who has bounced around foster care due to his mother suffering from drug addiction. He gets a break when a friend’s father asks the football coach of a Christian school to help enroll him. He makes the team but struggles with places to live and when the mom of a teammate finds out he’s sleeping outside, she invites him home. Slowly he becomes part of this family despite the many challenges and bumps along the way.
The Blind Side is a heartwarming tale about looking beyond outward appearances, trust, loyalty, and the realization that family isn’t always blood. You do have to get a box of Kleenex ready though, just in case.
5. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Who hasn’t heard of this well-loved classic? Even if you’ve heard of it but never got around to watching it, that’s alright because even we too just crossed it off our list recently. (Seriously, no judgments here.)
This movie is based on the story of an educator, played by the brilliant Robin Williams, who motivates his students to confront the norm with his poetry teaching. Dead Poets Society was about a teacher who inspired students with his unorthodox teaching methods. This is one of the best movies ever made to help young kids improve their learning life as well as explore and find their individuality. They may even write their own version of ‘O Captain, my Captain!”
6. School of Rock
Since School of Rock actually has the word “school” in it, we had to add this to our list. This (almost) 20-year-old movie has definitely become a classic that we did not know we needed. We agree that the character that Jack Black played was deceitful in his teacher qualifications (which we do not condone at all) but the overall message of the movie speaks volumes to both teachers and students. Plus, Jack Black ends up making you want to root for him.
It shows how having a great classroom environment that is filled with a passionate goal, can lead to great teamwork. It can also help those who may not have the confidence to have their time to shine. Discover the talents they may have. Winning may not be everything. It is the memories and “making the music” that count. And don’t forget, it can also teach students to not lie as eventually, the truth will come out.
For music teachers, this movie may be a fun lesson for your students, especially to encourage them to create and write their own music. To be creative and as a class, support each other’s creativity.
Not everyone may have the talent for a certain subject, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a purpose as, in the end, everyone in that class had an important role.
If the subject of ‘where are they now’ comes up of the actors, don’t forget to pay tribute to Kevin Clark who played the fantastic drummer, Fred in the movie. He sadly passed away in 2021. His talent will live forever in School of Rock.
7. Legally Blonde
This is truly a (what do these kids say nowadays), ICONIC movie. We’re pretty sure we have all watched this already but we’re including it in our list because we just have to remind the world of Elle Woods. Not like anybody would ever forget.
Albeit being a lighthearted, feel-good movie, Legally Blonde sends out important messages on women’s empowerment and owning your choices. Especially in a world where young girls are judged by the way they look, Elle Woods is the literal definition of the saying “never judge a book by its cover” or well in her case, never judge a girl by her pink outfits and perfume-scented résumé.
It’s important to note that Elle didn’t just stumble her way into Harvard Law. She actually studied her Prada shoes off for those LSATs, memorized legal jargon (beyond “I object”), and worked relentlessly hard for her internship. That hustle is just inspiring and could potentially inspire young girls out there.
If there’s anything that Elle represents, it’s the lesson that we should always embrace who we are. She is evidence that everybody is smart in their own way. Who would ever think that tips from a Cosmo magazine could help solve a murder trial? Elle is at her best when she stops trying to pretend to be someone she’s not, which is true for life in general. We are all at our best when we just decide to be ourselves. (We admit it is a tad bit corny but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.)
8. The Breakfast Club (1985)
To conclude our list of movies is another well-loved film! This coming-of-age comedy-drama film builds the story around five teenage high school students who are much more alike than they thought they were, other than being in detention for the troubles they have caused in school.
These students represent a society and how there are a myriad of people out there with a common problem, stereotypes. Setting out an important lesson, society may judge you for the things you do or who you are but it is you who knows yourself best. Especially revolving around five high school kids trying to figure their lives out, it addresses an important phase in all our lives- being a teenager. Brilliantly capturing the core thoughts and ideas during the teenage phase.
TV Shows highlighting education
9. Mr. Iglesias
This high school sitcom is about Gabe Iglesias, a likable public school history teacher assigned to a class of underachievers. When an atrocious assistant principal attempts to “counsel out” Mr. Iglesias’ students to improve the school’s overall rankings, it’s up to Mr. Iglesias to protect, inspire and educate them.
Portraying subtle but still meaningful messages nonetheless, the first episode ended with Iglesias paying tribute to his high school teacher who believed in him when he didn’t (true story). It goes to show that even if you do not see potential in yourself, there will always be someone who does. The key is to keep moving forward and eventually, you’ll get there. (And if you haven’t, keep going!)
The show also emphasizes the importance of believing in yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. In one of the episodes, the students in Mr. Iglesias’s class didn’t believe they could perform well in the school play. However, they just went and did the best they could anyway. No matter how foreign something seems, it is important to remember that it is the first step out of your comfort zone and gives you the opportunity to expand, or in other cases discover your skills. You’ll never know you have a hidden talent if you never try! Funny and entertaining, perfect to unwind after a busy day.
10. Ted Lasso
The show Ted Lasso on Apple TV may seem like just another sports show, but teachers can learn a lot from it too.
One of the most important lessons Ted teaches us is to believe. And it’s not just in ourselves but the people we work with too. You need to believe in both the coach (teacher) and the team (students). Having that positivity towards each other helps not just during those great times, but those times that are hard and when you need to take the time to feel sad but then move on “like a goldfish”.
The show also amplifies how working as a team is important because you can learn a lot from each other. Besides your students learning this lesson, as a teacher, it may also help to talk to your fellow teachers for new ideas or advice. No one is an island that can do it all alone.
Above all else, Ted teaches us that being genuinely nice can pay off. It can help build bridges more and grow a healthy community that looks out for each other. Even when people have done you wrong, show them kindness. This is a great lesson to teach your students.
Were these movies on your list?
And that’s a wrap! These are just a few from the long lists of movies and TV shows that might help motivate and inspire the youth and yourselves to create a better world for themselves and the future. These inspirational movies and shows are really going to boost their study spirit and educate them on the importance of hard work, determination, teamwork as well as friendship in their life. On that note, we just had to include Elle Woods’s words of wisdom.
Have you seen some of the shows from our list? Let us know as we love hearing from you! Did we miss out on any of your favorite educational or inspiring movies? Drop them in the comment section and perhaps we could do a part 2!