Movies highlighting the most moving student-teacher relationships

From a classroom teacher to a teacher who gives you a life lesson there are a lot of them to thank. One of these teachers day movie will remind you of at least one kind of teacher that you must have met in your life.

You can watch a list of these teacher-student relationships that will leave you being ever more thankful to all teachers around you. We have come up with a list of Hollywood movies for you to watch this teachers day that celebrate this bond and show how one teacher can change your life in ways you can never possibly imagine.

The Karate Kid (2010)

Directed by: Harald Zwart

Written by: Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson

Running time: 140 minutes

Although the 2010 movie is just a remake of the 1984 classic, both of them portray the same theme of good kung-fu and bad kung-fu. This is a fun watch for the entire family. It is a teachers day movie which you could watch and overwhelm yourself with the warm teacher-student relationship that the film depicts. We follow the journey of teacher Mr Miyagi in the 1984 film and Mr. Han in the 2010 remake, and the student, Daniel LaRusso (1984) and Dre Parker (2010). Unlike the original, this movie is set in China.


The 2010 movie is about a 12-year-old boy called Dre Parker who has moved from Detroit, Michigan to Beijing, China with his mother. He runs afoul of the neighbourhood bully and ends up making an alliance with an ageing maintenance man who goes on to become his teacher in the movie one day. Mr. Han, the maintenance man, is a kung-fu master who teaches him how to defend himself from his bullies.

Half Nelson (2006)

Directed by: Ryan Fleck

Written by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie

Running time: 106 minutes

Also, you could watch Half Nelson, a movie about a middle school teacher who forms a friendship with his student when one day she discovers that he has a drug habit. This movie is based on a 19-minute film made by Boden and Fleck in 2004, titled Gowanus, Brooklyn.


Dan Dunne is a history teacher at Brooklyn school. Though everything is going great for him in life, he has a slight problem. He secretly spends his evening hopping bars and getting high and one day his student called Drey discovers this when she finds him in a drug-induced haze after a basketball game. They immediately become fast friends. Dan struggles with getting rid of his addiction for his student to whom he acts as a mentor. Drey understands him because her brother is currently serving time for dealing drugs.

Dan himself is not sure what his relationship with the girl is. Still, he tries to do right by her and to give her what she needs: a mentor and a friend. This movie shows that the role of a teacher is not just limited to the laid down job descriptions but it is definitely something beyond that.


Half Nelson is not a conventional teacher-student movie about inspiration, getting the student to attain a breakthrough achievement or scores in a test. It is something far greater than that. It’s about a lesson learnt in life that many people don’t acknowledge. The lesson that people might be flawed, broken, miserable or frustrated but there is still some goodness left in them. They still somehow find a way to get up every morning and live their life and look at the world beyond themselves.

Freedom Writers (2007)

Directed by: Richard LaGraveneseStarring

Based on: The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

Starring: Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey, Mario

Running time: 122 minutes

Freedom Writers is a movie about a teacher who inspires her class to learn tolerance, apply themselves and pursue education beyond high school. This movie is based on a book called The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell. He compiled the book out of real diary entries about their lives that they wrote in their English class at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, California. 

The movie is inspired by a DC Program called City at Peace. The title of the film could be a reference to the term Freedom Riders who were the multiracial civil rights activists who tested the U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of interstate buses in 1961. Tracy Durning, a journalist who made a documentary about Erin Gruwell for the ABC News program Primetime Live was the one who thought of making this film. She served as the co-executive producer of the film. The film was dedicated to the memory of 18-year-old Armand Jones. He was shot to death in Anaheim, California after a confrontation with a man who robbed Jones of a necklace in Denny’s restaurant.


Freedom writers explore the journey of Erin Gruwell as an innocent and enthusiastic teacher at a high school in Long Beach. After the L.A. uprising in 1992, she aims to follow in her civil rights activist father’s footsteps. However, things are still daunting as she witnesses a fight where a boy pulls out a gun. She has to endure taunts from students of the “ghetto ass class”—unworthy of attention or time. To make matters worse, her cynical colleagues provide her with no form of encouragement. Then, she starts seeking ways to connect with her students. One day in the movie, the teacher is approached by a student who explains her rage: “White people running this world,” she says. “I saw white cops shoot my friend in the back for reaching into his pocket. They can because they’re white. I hate white people on sight.” 

She then realizes that the only way to make their voices heard is to speak up or rather write stories. Students who self-segregate from each other by race never knew one another’s stories. So, one day the teacher makes them stand together in a classroom where they share experiences of losing a friend to violence. This makes the students recognize their similarities. As the students continue to write about life in a supposed “war zone” as she introduces them to a similar situation of Anne Frank. She takes them to visit L.A.’s Holocaust museum to read The Diary of a Young Girl. The book makes these kids sentimental. Consequently, they decide to raise money to bring Miep Gies, the woman who hid Frank from the Nazis to campus.

Coach Carter (2005)

Directed by: Thomas Carter

Written by: Mark Schwahn, John Gatins

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Ashanti

Running time: 136 minutes

This movie is a story of Richmond High School Basketball coach Ken Carter. He made it to the headlines of the newspapers for suspending his entire basketball team after they broke their academic contract with him.


Coach Ken Carter himself is a star athlete. He accepts the job of a basketball coach at his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA. He is completely dismayed by the poor attitude of the jocks of the school including their dismal play performance. In order to bring a change, he starts including new rules. He makes a new contract with his team members which requires them to follow a strict regime. They also needed to inculcate respectful behaviour, follow a dress code, and bring good grades. He insists that everyone in the team wears a jacket and tie on game days, attends and sits in the front row of all classes and maintains a higher grade point average than the minimum required for participation in sports.

Members of the basketball team suffer from various issues and pressures. From a pregnant girlfriend to the money and excitement of street crime, they are helped to take down all their problems one by one. All initial resistances are dispelled and the Richmond High School team under Carter’s tutelage becomes invincible. This results in the players neglecting their studies in view of their overconfidence. Carter decides to take immediate admission, to the outrage of the school, parents and the team. He padlocks the court and gym and cancels all team activities until they show acceptable academic improvement.


Carter fights to keep his methods and ideologies for the better future of the boys. He is determined to show them that life is good when they have good values inculcated within them. Eventually, he finds that he has left a more profound impact on them than he had imagined.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Directed by: Peter Weir

Written by: Tom SchulmanStarring, Robin Williams

Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke 

Running time: 129 minutes

Another movie that you could watch is Dead Poets Society. It is set in 1959 at the fictional elite Vermont boarding school Welton Academy. The school is known for its traditional and conservative practices. The movie tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through the art of reading poetry. 


John Keating is not one of those conventional teachers who think that his duty is simply limited to giving bookish knowledge to his students. He tries to bring a change in all-boys boarding school students and to embolden them using poetry. Todd Anderson is one among these students. On one hand, where he is extremely shy, his brother was a valedictorian. He has a friend and roommate called Neil Perry. He is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father, in spite of him being an exceedingly bright and popular student.

The two friends, along with some other new students go to meet their new English teacher. He discusses with them about the Dead Poets Society. Subsequently, he encourages them to shatter the status quo and forge their own path in life. He uses unorthodox methods to reach out and connect with his students who are already struggling with the pressure of their parents and the outside world. Each of these students takes his advice and we see how this changes their life for the better. Even Neil and Perry learnt to come out of their shells, and pursue their dreams without fear of a soul.


Dead Poets Society is a collection of pious platitudes. It is a movie that encourages us all for one thing that we often fail to acknowledge: doing your own thing. The teacher doesn’t just tell them things. Instead at probably the “best prep school in America”, he challenges them to question the conventional world view by employing techniques such as standing on their desks. It is almost inevitable that the teacher will get fired from the school that isn’t supportive of such ideologies. However, when it actually happens, the students stand up on those same desks to protest against his dismissal; which was probably the most moving scene in the entire movie.

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