Bad Movie Teachers

Back to school season is upon us with parents and kids across the country scrambling for school supplies and clothes. I thought I would commemorate this occasion by doing a post on movie teachers since I can’t really find any pictures of tacky back to school stuff. Now we all are familiar with the inspirational movie teacher who makes a positive difference in his or her students’ lives as well as helps them rise up from humble circumstances. Unfortunately, these aren’t the kind of teachers I won’t be talking about. Still, a lot of us have had bad teachers at some point in our lives because even in the teaching profession, there always has to be someone who sucks at their job. And like in real life, movies have a lot of these from the downright abusive to the downright incompetent, sometimes both. So without further adieu, here is a list of movie teachers that you don’t want to have. Also, this includes principals and coaches.

1. Michel Delassalle

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From: Diabolique

The Problem: To make a long story short, he’s just an uncaring administrator who does a terrible job running his run-down, crumbling school. The grounds seem like they haven’t been tended in weeks while the teachers are incompetent time-servers while the kids smoke and harass the staff. Such terrible education environment may be excusable at a public school at an inner city neighborhood where all the kids come from families poorer than hen shit while the teachers are just too frustrated to care anymore. However, Delassalle runs a private European boarding school associated with the finest a continental education can offer whose students come from more affluent families. Not only that but Delassalle mistreats his wife and openly cheats on her with another faculty member. Yet, even this doesn’t stop the two women who are supposed to love him to get together in plotting his demise (well, seemingly at first). He’s such a terrible principal that everything at that school could only seemingly get better if he’d only disappeared, but it gets much worse.

2. Mr. Jonas

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From: How Green Was My Valley

The Problem: Let’s just say while there are the kind of inspirational teacher who’s guidance helps seemingly dead-end poor kids to achieve a better life outside the one they’re accustomed to. Unfortunately, Mr. Jonas isn’t that kind of teacher. Rather when Huw Morgan earns the right to attend his school since his scholastic abilities could be his ticket out of his dead-end Welsh mining town, he soon has the misfortune of being in Mr. Jonas’ class. Now like a lot of teachers in the Victorian Era, Mr. Jonas is a sadistic uncaring fop whose disciplinary methods basically consist of caning students to the bone. When he’s not employing corporal punishments to Huw, he’s berating him for being poor and Welsh. Sure he gets beat up by a couple of village miners but because of him, Huw has no interest to continue his education and opts for child labor in the village mine alongside his father and oldest brother who both end up dead by the film’s conclusion. Thanks to the sadistic Mr. Jonas sapping his interest to better himself, young Huw is destined for either an early death or a lifetime of respiratory disease.

3. Dolores Umbridge

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From: The Harry Potter films

The Problem: Sure she may appear as someone’s kindly aunt or grandmother who dresses in pink and decorates her office with adorable cats. Yet, be warned that she’s a vicious and ruthless woman who’s basically one of the more realistic and universally despised villains in the whole series. For one, Umbridge not only teaches a subject she’s undeniably unqualified for such as Defense Against the Dark Arts which leads to Harry and his friends teaching the subject themselves under cover of night. Second, she’s willing to punish students for simply talking out of turn and disagreeing with her. And she tends to employ rather sadistic torture methods she employes with glee such as making Harry write “I must not tell lies” with a blood quill that creates a permanent scar on his hand. Third, she uses her other job with the Ministry of Magic to turn Hogwarts into her personal totalitarian fiefdom and inflicting tyrannical laws to get her own way yet engages in activities that are considered illegal and unforgivable even by Ministry standards. Let’s just say the only way you can deal with is put her in a situation where her connections won’t help her like in a herd of centaurs.

4. Miss Jean Brodie

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From: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Problem: Though you’d more or less remember Dame Maggie Smith as the stern but ultimately competent and caring Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, but don’t expect her to be anything like this in her Oscar-winning role as Miss Brodie. Now as teacher of the Marcia Blaine School, Miss Brodie has less interest in encouraging her students to think for themselves and challenge the status quo (despite what she says) or actual teaching than creating her own self-centered personality cult as well as acting out her delusions of grandeur by devoting her class time with talking way too much about her personal life and romanticizing fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco. She also tends to singles out a few of her pupils she calls “la creme de la creme” whose ambitions for them basically involve using them to vicariously fulfill her own psychological needs whether it’s pimping one of them for the art teacher or manipulating another into running away to fight for Franco (which gets her killed). Sure she may be a rebellious teacher at a conservative school but she has no moral compass whatsoever and shows absolutely no remorse for her irresponsible actions. Luckily thanks to Sandy betraying her to the Miss Mackay and the Board of Governors, she’s fired but her influence will have damaging effects to many of her girls in their adult lives such as disillusionment, especially since she never taught her students about pain and loss. To all principals everywhere, avoid hiring a teacher who says, “Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the crème de la crème. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.”

5. Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. Ph.D. (a.k.a. Indiana Jones)

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From: The Indiana Jones series

The Problem: Sure Indy is one heck of a badass who travels the globe collecting valuable treasures that belong in a museum and kicking Nazi butt. Yet, let’s face it, how Indy manages to hold on to his job as a professor of archaeology is beyond us even if he gets a good allowance for fieldwork but even teachers don’t get that much time off in real life. Even so, he always seems to bust out on an adventure before the semester is over without giving his students any notice. Still, while Indiana Jones has inspired many people into becoming archaeologists even though those in the field might question Marshall College’s prestige in its Archaeology Department since Indy basically sucks at his job. He not only neglects his students while hunting for artifacts, shows very disrespectful behavior toward other cultures, destroying ancient buildings for gold trinkets, using no documentation at his finds, as well as doing things that archaeologists are actually supposed to do. Sure he may say, “Archaeology is about facts. Not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is down the hall. …Forget any ideas you’ve got about lost cities, exotic travel and digging up the world. We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and X never, ever marks the spot.”  Yet, this is what he basically does as far as we know, which sort of hurts his credibility. A lot of the stuff Indy does in the movies would actually get a guy in his field fired as evidenced in this article where he’s denied tenure: <www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/back-from-yet-another-globetrotting-adventure-indiana-jones-checks-his-mail-and-discovers-that-his-bid-for-tenure-has-been-denied>

6. Professor Dave Jennings

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From: Animal House

The Problem: While a lot of bad movie teachers’ list have Dean Wormer for being one mean son of a bitch who undertakes extraordinary measures to shut down a notorious frat house, his actions at the Delta Tau Chi House are pretty justifiable. I mean if a bunch of frat boys killed a horse in your office, you’d probably try doing the same if you were in his place. Still, at least he’s trying to do his job and he’s also under pressure from the town’s mayor. Disenchanted English Professor Jennings, on the other hand, should be fired since his behavior is far more objectionable for a man in his profession. Not only does he lecture his kids on radical politics instead of what he’s supposed to teach, he hangs out at their frat parties smoking joints with them as well as seduces their girlfriends. Sure he may play up as a cool hippie teacher but he’s really nothing but a worthless piece of shit.

7. Gilderoy Lockhart

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From: The Harry Potter films

The Problem: I know Severus Snape gets on many lists for worst movie teacher yet at least he has some concern about his students as well as actually quite competent even if he’s rather unpleasant in the classroom and outright loathes one particular student just simply because he’s the offspring of a man he hates and a girl he had a crush on during his teenage years. Hey, he may have killed Dumbledore, but at least he’s not known for endangering students’ lives (though it’s kind of expected at Hogwarts), which says a lot. I know Sybil Trelawney may suck as a Divination teacher sometimes but at least she tries her best and has a legitimate reason to be there. On the other hand, Lockhart views his job as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher as a way to boost his enormous narcissistic ego as a wizarding celebrity famous for defeating various magical creatures like yetis, banshees, werewolves, and trolls which he chronicled in his books. Seems like a perfect person to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, right? Wrong, he’s an utter incompetent and untalented as shown by how he leaves his second year students deal with a release of a cage full of Cornish Pixies. Also, he actually claimed other people’s exploits as his own as well as erased their memories so they wouldn’t sue. And if you’re a certain celebrity second year student known for surviving a deadly curse from the Dark Lord, then expect to have to spend your detentions having to answer his fan mail, having your bones removed after a Quidditch match, and almost having him wipe out you and your best friend’s memories when you go to the Chamber of Secrets to save the aforementioned friend’s sister. Luckily Ron’s broken wand puts Lockhart into Saint Mungo’s as a permanent resident and is replaced by a more competent Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who actually has some experience with werewolves.

8. Miss Agatha Trunchbull

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From: Matilda

The Problem: Only in the Roald Dahl universe could we have a principal like Miss Trunchbull whose sadistic antics could turn her domain into an elementary school and G-Rated version of The Shawshank Redemption. She openly dislikes and disciplines her students over relatively minor offenses (if they’re offenses at all) so she could terrorize them with her assortment of creative torture methods. Come to school in pigtails? Get thrown over a the fence. Get caught for stealing food from the kitchen? Be forced to eat a giant chocolate cake by yourself in front of the whole student body and have those peers stay 5 hours after school for cheering you on. And for offenses that would give you a verbal reprimand or a half hour of detention at recess, she has kids stand in for “the chokey” which is an improvised iron maiden bound to send any grade school child into a lifetime of therapy. Other crimes include killing her own brother-in-law, stealing all his assets from her 5-year old niece, and abusing her well into adulthood. Why no parents complain about their child’s grades suffering over the fact that they go to a school headed by someone who belongs in a maximum security prison, we’ll never know.

9. Mr. Jasper Woodcock

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From: Mr. Woodcock

The Problem: Gym teachers in movies are usually not portrayed in a good light and Mr. Woodcock is no exception. Yet, this guy is a sadistic, humorless, and militaristic middle school gym teacher who takes the cake in making boys’ gym shorts brown as well as forever diminished self-confidence that leads to a career writing touchy-feely self-help books. In his class, you will run laps as well as suffer vicious humiliation leading to a lifetime of therapy and medication. Woodcock would bully the weakest, plumpest, and least coordinated boys in the class as well as subject them to all sorts of antics like making an asthmatic kid run laps and whacking kids in the groin with a whiffleball bat. Let’s just say, seeing him dating your mom would be one of your worst nightmares. At least if you like her. Out of all the sadistic and abusive gym teachers in movies, Mr. Woodcock just tops them all.

10. Mr. Kitano

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From: Battle Royale

The Problem: We all know that teaching can sometimes be a frustrating and thankless job. Kids will not always be eager to learn and there will be some who misbehave. Yet, teaming up with your dystopian government to send his entire class on a field trip on an island to reenact The Hunger Games is not at all a good idea. In fact, it will give you a life sentence at a maximum security prison or looney bin if you’re lucky to live in a place that doesn’t have the death penalty. Yet, this is exactly what Kitano does as well as throw a knife straight at a girl in the chest for whispering during his lecture, outfitting all his former students with exploding dog collars, and others. There are safer ways to express your teaching frustrations like therapy.

11. Dean Ed Rooney

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From: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Problem: Look, I know that truancy isn’t a good thing for a student to do and makes the school look bad. Yet, Rooney’s single minded-pursuit of a notorious truant is certainly inexcusable for any school administrator. Rooney’s hunting down Ferris has more to do with personal vendetta than actually about giving him an education. Rooney is basically Captain Ahab as a school administrator willing to let his obsession of giving a truant what he deserves that he’s willing to break into a Ferris’ house, attacks the Buellers’ dog, and completely neglects his duties as a school administrator. Sure Rooney does have every right to be concerned about Ferris skipping school nine times as well as that nobody else seems to hold him accountable. And yes, it’s Rooney’s job to enforce school regulations, especially when it comes to a student skipping school nine times as well as hacking into a computer to erase his records. But trying to enforce school regulations while being completely absent from school property and neglecting other responsibilities is taking things way too far. Ferris is only one of the hundreds of students under Rooney’s charge and devoting all his time and energy on punishing is not how a principal is supposed to act. Rooney should’ve either just hired a truant officer or at least notify Mr. and Mrs. Bueller about their son’s skipping behavior.

12. Mr. Michael “Tiger” Magrew

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From: Pretty Maids All in a Row

The Problem: Sure he may seem like the greatest teacher in the world at his Venice, CA high school. As a faculty adviser and head of coach of its football team, he’s a warm and charming man who always has an open door policy at his office and will give you private lessons on the side just because he cares. Seems like a perfect teacher, right? Wrong, despite his Rock Hudson portrayal, he’s creep who abuses his power by cheating on his wife with a long line of female students. And he sees absolutely nothing wrong with teacher/student relationships and even helps a male student put the moves on a hot young substitute teacher. Just when you think he can’t get any worse, he has taken to killing many of his underage bedmates to keep his affairs secrets and quietly dumps their bodies around campus. A true serial killer in the education system, Mr. Magrew is a teacher from hell you’d want to avoid.

13. Erika Kohut

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From: The Piano Teacher

The Problem: She’s practically a package of everything you wouldn’t want for a teacher. A passionless and frigid monster at Vienna music conservatory, Erika openly berates her students for not playing with enough emotion even though she has the emotional range of a vacuum cleaner. Yet, she’s also prone to insulting them with no helpful input at times as well as occasionally puts broken glass in their coat pockets when they’re not looking. In her private life, she’s basically a female version of Christian Grey, but not in a good way such as a controlling and psychologically messed up human being who gives S&M a bad name. Not only that, but she has an unhealthy relationship with her mother, engages in voyeurism and public urination, and has a romantic attachment to a seventeen-year-old boy. Let’s just say, you don’t want this messed up lady in a classroom or in your life for that matter.

14. Richard “Dick” Vernon

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From: The Breakfast Club

The Problem: Sure I know that being a principal is a stressful job but Vernon really takes it overboard. For one, he has five teenagers serve detention in the school library on a Saturday, orders them not to speak or move in their seats, and makes them write an essay. Second, he treats his students like garbage, verbally haranguing them every chance he gets. If it’s a student he particularly despises named Bender, then expect Vernon to assign him two months detention for talking back as well as locking him in a closet and physically threatening him. Of course, he did want an easy job where children respected him but perhaps he should seek another kind of work because school principal is anything but an easy job and lashing your frustrations against a few teenagers isn’t going to earn you any respect.

15. Mr. Jim McAllister

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From: Election

The Problem: Now I know it’s okay to be upset that his best friend got fired for having affair with a student. And it’s perfectly fine for him to dislike the girl who wrecked his friend’s life apart. Yet, even if Tracy Flick is an unbearable overachiever with a taste for older men, none of that gives Mr. McAllister any acceptable reason to rig a student election that would deny her a rightful place on student government. Sure she may be a lascivious teenage monster in her youth but what Mr. McAllister has to understand is that Dave could’ve chosen not to commit statutory rape and has pretty much nobody to blame for wrecking his life but himself. Nevertheless, rigging a student government election out of pure spite is outright deception unbecoming of any educator. Still, as an adult he should know better and his conduct won’t make the kids respect him anymore, especially if he catches them doing something out of spite. Also, he apparently sees no problem with ditching his class midday to hook up with Dave’s ex-wife while he’s still married.

16. Mr. Trevor Garfield

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From 187

The Problem: Samuel L. Jackson is known for playing a badass but unfortunately what works in Pulp Fiction doesn’t necessarily translate well in the classroom. Sure he may have a thing for “an eye for an eye” tactics after being violently attacked by a rebellious student but that doesn’t mean he should practice them on his students even if they are a bunch of little shits. I mean tranquilizing a teen with a bow and arrow and cutting off his finger is a serious breach of ethics in the classroom as well as playing the all too real game of Russian roulette. Seriously, he may say these activities are in the best interests of the “good” students at his school though any teenager with half a brain would be wise to skip his class. Even worse is that he’s depicted as a good guy in this movie despite bringing a gun into the classroom.

17. Kitty Farmer

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From: Donnie Darko

The Problem: You think an educator who actually has kids would be someone you’d want around your children right?  For someone who says to her students, “OK. Now, girls. I want you to concentrate. Failure is not an option. And Bethany? If you feel the need to vomit up there, just swallow it,” you might want to reconsider. Kitty Farmer’s students think she’s a clueless nuisance. Yet, in reality she’s basically the closest thing you can get to having Sarah Palin in the classroom, an ignorant and judgmental woman who lets her cheerily ultra right wing rhetoric rule her world. She’s prone to merrily denouncing what’s right and wrong with no gray area in between, lobbying to ban books she can’t fully understand, and fully supporting a guy who later turns out to be a pedophile to fill in as a counselor to her classes. Now this is the movie famous for having a pedophile played by Patrick Swayze and a skeleton masked doomsday rabbit who seem pretty tame by comparison alongside her.

18. Dan Dunne

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From: Half-Nelson

The Problem: You’d think someone played by Ryan Gosling would make a great teacher  since he’s quite easy on the eyes. Well, at an inner city middle school in Brooklyn it certainly appears to the be case for the 20 something teacher at first. On the surface, he’s an idealistic and smart teacher known to give inspiring lectures as well as eschewing the school curriculum in favor of dialectics. Oh, and he does a great job reaching out to his students by teaching them on how to interpret historicity as well as helping to give each of his kids a powerful analytical voice. So Dunne’s pretty awesome right? Well, unfortunately he’s a addicted to crack who gets caught getting high in a bathroom stall by one of his players from the girls basketball team. Sure they strike a friendship but he only heads deeper into addiction that he shows up to class hung over in front of his students as well as grows more cynical about his ability to shape his students’ minds. Oh, and he orders the aforementioned girl to deliver crack to him at a seedy motel, basically setting her up for expulsion and poverty-filled future. Yeah, maybe a 20 something crack addict doesn’t belong in the classroom, especially at an inner city middle school. Perhaps Dan Dunne should’ve worked for Wall Street, since he’s probably the biggest hypocrite on Red Ribbon Week.

19. Mrs. Sheba Hart

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From: Notes on a Scandal

The Problem: Well, despite being played by Cate Blanchett, she’s not the brightest bulb in the patch. For one, she’s having an affair with one of her 15 year old students. Second, she’s being emotionally manipulated by co-teacher Barbara Covett who’s blackmailing her into sharing intimate details of that said affair. Third, Covett is a lesbian who has a habit of seducing young female teachers and thinks that being Hart’s friend would make her fall in love with her. Of course, Covett is destined for the friend zone since Hart is straight, married with kids, and doesn’t seem to go for anyone over 50. Oh, and she chronicles her whole affair with student in an obsessively detailed journal. Sure Covett may be a manipulative bitch but being a 50+ lesbian who seduces young teachers is much safer around the kiddos than one who commits statutory rape with a 15 year old boy, sees nothing wrong with it, and has no common sense. I mean having sex with a minor is one thing, but discussing the matter with a colleague who wants to get in your pants is just plain dumb. I mean this is how teachers like her get fired and sent to jail dumb.

20. Reverend Henry Brocklehurst

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From: Jane Eyre

The Problem: Let’s just say he’s one of the worst principals in all of 19th century literature as well as in film. If you think Jane had it rough with her awful relatives, then it gets much worse during her days at Lowood which is pretty much a charity boarding school for poor and orphaned children. Yet, it’s also one of horrors mostly because it’s run by this man. While Delassale keeps his boarding school accommodations in terrible shape due to neglect, Mr. Brocklehurst runs his charity almost to human rights disaster area mostly because he views these girls as outright garbage. Cold rooms, thin clothing, and terrible food lead to a typhus epidemic that kills a lot of girls at Lowood. Meanwhile, he and his family live comfortably well off which makes you wonder if he’s squandering money from his donors. His punishments also border around child abuse as well. Accidentally break a slate? Well, he’ll have you stand on a stool, call you a liar, and shame you before the whole student body. Can’t straighten your naturally curly hair? Well, he order you to get a haircut since he thinks it’s such a horrific sin. Oh, and he’s a minister to boot which makes him even more of a hypocrite. Brocklehurst’s fate varies by the adaptation but in the book, he actually gets fired. Apparently the Brocklehurst was too cruel of a principal for the 19th century, even in a school for poor orphaned girls! And remember from your Dickens novels that this is a time when adults could treat any poor kid like shit and not face any legal consequences whatsoever. You can understand why Jane wanted to leave Lowood as soon as she could.

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