Back To School: My Top Five Fictional Teachers

It’s October, which means the autumn term has well and truly commenced and students across the country are back to school or university. But never fear! Here to brighten up your long days of studying is a list of the top 5 fictional teachers. Don’t say I don’t treat you. So, teachers: however good you think you are, you’ll never be as good as this lot. Sorry about that.

Albus Dumbledore- Harry Potter Series

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is unlikely to introduce Potions and Transfiguration to the National Curriculum any time soon, but Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore would still be a welcome addition to any Muggle school.

Perhaps Dumbledore’s pitfalls as an actual teacher should be overlooked- he did fail to rid the school grounds of an army of Dark creatures which just happened to want to kill and eat his students, and he also made some really bad choices regarding staff. Two words: Dolores Umbridge. 

A kind, grandfatherly wizard clad in flowing robes, Dumbledore was a fountain of wisdom throughout the Harry Potter books and was able to see qualities in others that often went unnoticed. His achievements as a mentor are so vast, however, that he is completely forgiven for his shortcomings as an educator. 

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

Mr Bill Anderson- Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 coming-of-age novel tracked the thoughts and feelings of ‘wallflower’ freshman Charlie. Someone that featured heavily was schoolteacher, Bill Anderson.

Firm but fair, encouraging and dedicated to his subject, Charlie’s ninth grade English teacher Bill Anderson was the only one to recognise the confused teenager’s true potential- the making of a great teacher. Hollywood star Paul Rudd took on the role of the fiercely passionate tutor in the 2012 film.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”- Bill Anderson

Minerva McGonagall- Harry Potter Series

Another inclusion from the Harry Potter series, Professor McGonagall was the Head of Gryffindor House.

Behind the strict front is a caring and supportive pastoral figure who took it upon herself to ensure the wellbeing of her students, particularly Harry. The Professor notably bent the rules to allow the young wizard to join the school’s Quidditch team and even gave him a brand new Nimbus 2000 (the fastest broomstick of its time).

McGonagall also totally sussed out the Dursleys as being the “worst sort of Muggles imaginable” and kept an eye on young Harry throughout his childhood until he enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

“This boy will be famous. There won’t be a child in our world who doesn’t know his name.”- Minerva McGonagall

Miss Trunchbull – Matilda

Maybe Agatha Trunchbull wasn’t the nicest of people. Roald Dahl described her as a “fierce tyrannical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike” – but her ranking on this list was earned by the very fact that she is so wickedly evil.

Dahl’s fearsome Principal of Crunchem Hall was brought to life in the 1996 film by the effervescent Pam Ferris. Clad in a bottle-green uniform with razor sharp observation and psychopathic tendencies, Trunchbull was the stuff of nightmares.

Flinging a small child across the schoolyard by her pigtails and launching herself over her own balcony quicker than the stairs, her practicality cannot be denied. Completely in a league of her own, she managed to run a school with a torture chamber in it. That definitely would not escape OFSTED in this day and age. 

“I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me.”- Agatha Trunchbull

Douglas Hector- The History Boys

Last, but by no means least, is The History Boys’ English/General Studies teacher Mr Douglas Hector.

Alan Bennett’s 2004 play saw a group of history students at the fictional Cutlers’ Grammar School in Sheffield preparing for the Oxbridge entrance exams under the careful guidance of the mentor they affectionately referred to as Hector.

Adapted for the stage with the National Theatre in 2004, the play saw the late, great Richard Griffiths take the role of the inspiring and innovative teacher.Huge success in the UK and on Broadway saw a 2006 film adaptation. Featuring alongside Griffiths were actors that are now household names, including James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something… that you’d thought special…to you. It’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”- Douglas Hector