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Friday’s High Flipper 5: Most Inspirational Fictional Teachers

Chosen by Debbie

Everyone remembers the teachers from school that meant a lot to them. The ones that tore pages from textbooks because of their renegade teaching methods, and who inspired you to stand on your desk when they were unjustly fired; the ones that taught you how to use a light saber whilst clinging to your back and making you run around a swamp; your favourite one  who, when you were brought up in conversation by a mutual friend 15 years later, didn’t have a clue who you were (oh Miss Chandler, if you could remember who I was maybe you would understand my pain).

So, in honour of those amazing figures who help to form young minds and, as is probably only right, sometimes make more of an impression on you than you do on them,  my ‘Friday’s High Flipper 5’ is:

 5 Inspirational Teachers from Children’s Fiction

1. Miss Honey, from Roald Dahl’s Matilda

“Miss Jennifer Honey was a mild and quiet person who never raised her voice and was seldom seen to smile, but there is no doubt she possessed that rare gift for being adored by every small child under her care. She seemed to understand totally the bewilderment and fear that so often overwhelms young children who for the first time in their lives are herded into a classroom and told to obey orders. Some curious warmth that was almost tangible shone out of Miss Honey’s face when she spoke to a confused and homesick newcomer to the class.”

Who didn’t dream of having a Miss Honey to rescue and to be rescued by?

2. Amyus Crowe and Rufus Stone, from Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock series

“‘The sensible man,’ Crowe had said, ‘don’t look to confirm what he already knows — he looks to deny it. Finding evidence that backs up your theories ain’t useful, but finding evidence that your theories are wrong is priceless. Never try to prove yourself right — always try to prove yourself wrong instead.'”


“‘The thing is,’ Stone said, ‘that if you don’t believe that you are an old man, or a woman, or a tramp, then how can you expect anyone else to believe you? Looking the part is just the surface; being the part is the true disguise.'”

Yes it’s cheating slightly having two in one entry, but Young Sherlock’s two mentors handily illustrate the influence that good teachers have on their young charges. Sherlock learns his cold logic from Crowe, and his skill at disguise from Stanislavski disciple Stone. Marlon Brando eat your heart out. Which he probably would have done if the part required it.

3. Professor Dumbledore, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

What would an inspirational teacher list be without the wisest (and oldest) of them all, Professor Albus Dumbledore? He guides Harry on his way, putting him in mortal danger every year, in order to save the world. Now where are the lemon sherbets?

4. Mr Tushman, from R.J. Palacio’s Wonder

“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average– though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”

If you don’t well up a bit and vow to be a better person during Mr Tushman’s graduation speech at the end of Wonder, well, you should probably have had better teachers when you were at school.


5. Mrs Butler, from Allan Ahlberg’s Please Mrs Butler

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.
What shall I do?

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.
Run away to sea.
Do whatever you can, my flower.
But don’t ask me!

Now, I’m not proposing that Mrs Butler is dealing well here with a potential bullying situation. But assuming that Derek Drew is just annoying rather than a violent child, Mrs Butler could be said to be teaching self-reliance. Teachers must prepare their students to think for themselves after all.

Which fictional teachers, presumably a little less neglectful than Mrs Butler, do you find the most inspiring?

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