[On the inspirational teacher trope in films]

Blackboard Jungle

“The figure has been made familiar through countless Hollywood films: an initially-reticent protagonist who takes charge of a class full of “challenging”, “disadvantaged” or “impoverished” students, typically teenagers. The youth have no desire to make the teacher’s job easy and the teacher is faced with the daunting task of winning the students over. But (s)he believes it is possible and that the children could be saved, if only (s)he could find a way to gain their trust. The teacher then single-mindedly dedicates herself to her mission, generally at great personal cost. (S)he may, in a few instances, have a character flaw—alcoholism, drug abuse, minor moral transgressions—but is eventually redeemed through her work. These “classroom dramas” demonstrate a liberal charitability towards the wayward students, whose difficult behaviour and casual cruelty are tolerated with a Catholic forbearance.”

[Full article at Film Companion]