Lessons from 6 Fictional Teachers03 Oct, 20231-2 minutes
In this blog, you will learn:
- You will learn about six of literature’s most memorable Teachers
- Some of their key attributes and key skills.
- What we can learn from them.
- How to find and apply for the best education and SEND jobs.
In honour of National Teacher’s Day, it’s important to celebrate all Teachers, including fictional characters that you grew up reading about. Besides parents or guardians, Teachers are the first adults we encounter who help shape our lives and teach us valuable lessons.
In literature, there have been iconic portrayals of Teachers like Miss Trunchbull and Professor Umbridge, but it’s the kind-hearted, fictional Teachers that stick with you as if they were really there at your school.
Like in real life, there are Teachers who you never forget, good, bad and some in-between. Children read fictional tales and engage with fictional characters to immerse themselves in a better world of imagination and creativity. Fictional teachers have the power to inspire children into adulthood, deepen their relationships and improve empathy. They can make you feel safe, talented and encourage you to make mistakes and learn from them.
Here are 6 of the most memorable Teachers from literature and the lessons they taught us.
Miss Honey is probably the first person that comes to mind when it comes to people's favourite fictional Teacher. Roald Dahl’s book Matilda is filled with lots of adult characters that don’t show any kindness, understanding or compassion towards Matilda, except her school Teacher Miss Honey. She is the epitome of kindness, sensitivity and everything you would want in a Teacher.
Despite the hardships in Miss Honey’ own life, she always puts her pupils first. Her kindness and warmth reminds you of your favourite Teacher at school and why they were the most helpful and impactful. It isn’t just her kindness, Miss Honey challenges her students to be the best version of themselves and isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies like Miss Trunchbull.
Miss Honey is the opposite of everything Miss Trunchbull represents. Whereas Miss Trunchbull is a domineering and powerful character who is physically strong, it is Miss Honey who is mightier and braver. She allows her students to be themselves and does her best to protect them from Miss Trunchbull and stand up for them before herself.
Miss Honey also takes an interest in her student’s lives, not just their academic journey - so much so that she ends up adopting Matilda!
The list wouldn’t be accurate without a Teacher from Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall is the Head of Gryffindor House, Deputy Headmistress and considered to be one of the best Teachers at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She is fair, strict and highly respected in the wizarding community by both pupils and fellow Teachers.
Professor McGonagall has high expectations and standards on behaviour, success and education. As a disciplinarian, she believes in pushing her students to achieve their full potential. Professor McGonagall is knowledgeable and accomplished in her own right and able to explain complex concepts in a way students can understand.
Professor McGonagall’s commitment to her school and her students teaches us the importance of loyalty and her willingness to go above and beyond. Her no nonsense attitude inspires respect and admiration in her students and colleagues.
But best of all, she can turn into a cat!
To Sir With Love is an autobiographical account of teaching in the East End of London. Ricky Braithwaite is a resilient, patient man, who has to try different methods to get through to his students.
No one will hire him because of the colour of his skin despite his education and experience as a pilot and engineer. In desperation Braithwaite turns to teaching and with no experience or guidance, he finds himself facing a difficult class of mostly white working-class teenage delinquents who are barely literate, disrespectful and refuse to listen or learn.
The book deals with poverty, race and teen culture, and highlights Mr Braithwaite’s own ability to persevere, despite the difficulties and racial bigotry he faces. He is calm, respectful and patient in his approach to reform his students and gives them positive, meaningful experiences that they’ve missed out on because they are poor, working class or neglected. Mr Braithwaite makes a difference through his compassion, understanding and his ability to be firm when bringing the right balance of authority. He changes his approach and attitude to teaching by communicating with his students. He treats them like adults and they realise they can relate to him.
Despite being published in 1959, the book still resonates today, and Mr Braithwaite’s lessons and observations about engagement, behaviour and teacher well-being are no doubt inspiring, moving and powerful.
Anne of Green Gables has been considered a classic children’s novel since the mid-20th century. Miss Stacy comes to the fictional land of Avonlea, to take over teaching the children at Avonlea school. She quickly makes an impression and brings new life into the school.
Miss Stacy is a compassionate, forward-thinking and sympathetic Teacher who becomes a role model and mentor for 11-year-old Anne. She has the gift of holding the affection and respect of her pupils and bringing out the best in them. Miss Stacy wants the best for her students, and sees teaching as more than just a job or duty that she must fulfil. She encourages her students to think outside of the box and work hard to achieve their dreams, not just at school but in life too. In fact Miss Stacy inspires Anne to become a Teacher and it is with her recommendation that Anne is able to get a position teaching at a prestigious girls school when she is older.
Miss Stacy allowed her pupils to flourish and became a valued member of the community. Anne herself would go on to become a great Teacher having learned from the best.
A beloved character in Madeline, Miss Clavel is the Teacher and minder at an all-girls boarding school in Paris, France. She is responsible for the safety, well-being and education of her 12 pupils, by enforcing rules that keep them in line… well in two straight lines.
Miss Clavel has a high level of authority and wisdom that allows her to not only teach various school subjects but also teach the girls various moral lessons. She is very mindful and intuitive as she can always sense when something isn’t right. Madeline is the youngest pupil, the greatest troublemaker and the main cause of Miss Clavel’s stress. Despite this, she is still patient, understanding and ready to teach with equal respect for each child.
Miss Clavel’s nervous disposition allows us to relate to the pressures she feels and shows us that she cares about the role she has in the girl’s lives. Her protective nature and concern for her pupils' well-being reminds us that she is human and also of how important it is for a teacher to be caring but also strict and patient.
Another Harry Potter entry! There are so many inspiring professors in the Harry Potter series it was difficult to choose just one! It wouldn’t be a memorable Teachers list without Harry’s personal favourite Teacher, Professor Lupin.
On first meeting Professor Lupin, he comforts Harry by giving him a piece of chocolate, and that’s only the beginning of his kindness, generosity and sense of fun. In the first 2 Harry Potter books, the two previous Defence Against the Dark Arts (DADA) professors were not very good Teachers, one was Voldemort in disguise and the other was a fake, a liar and a narcissist.
When Lupin arrives in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban he immediately makes an impression and simultaneously makes his lessons fun, interesting and useful.
Professor Lupin teaches pupils actual defence spells and all about magical creatures, and he soon becomes the most popular Teacher in the school. He also took the time outside of the classroom to personally help Harry better himself and feel safe at school.
Professor Lupin’s opinions mean a lot to Harry and he has such respect for his Teacher that the moment he disappoints him, it has a greater impact than ever getting told off by Professor Snape or Professor Umbridge. Out of the 6 DADA professors who teach Harry, it is Professor Lupin who makes a lasting impression.
If we can overlook the fact that Professor Lupin is also a werewolf, then we can appreciate his redeeming qualities like his loyalty and ability to see the good in everyone!
What we can learn from them
- Miss Honey goes out of her way to help her students and teaches us to have passion and warmth.
- The key attributes to Professor McGonagall are that she is firm but fair. This approach commands respect, admiration and the best out of everyone.
- Mr Braithwaite teaches us about how valuable it is to be patient and flexible in your approach to life as everyone is different but deserves to be treated as equals.
- From Miss Stacy, we learn the values of being compassionate and responding to opportunities. A new opportunity can make all the difference and sometimes, people need a push or words of encouragement to embrace the change.
- Miss Clavel teaches her pupils moral lessons that solve their daily conflicts to give them better insights in reality. She prepares them for the dangers, difficulties and confusions of the real world.
- Like Professor Lupin, it is important to be loyal and make an impact through your commitment to others. He encourages us to be perceptive of other people's feelings and opinions.
If you enjoyed reading about literature’s most memorable and beloved Teachers, check out this guide on the best books on teaching!
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