The most iconic teachers in pop culture

As we celebrate Teachers' Day today, we take a look back at the most inspiring reel-life teachers we wished we had while we were back in school

My Teacher Is A Thug
My Teacher Is A Thug
30 Aug 2017

My Teacher Is A Thug

Today (August 31), we celebrate Teachers' Day (yes, that means an extra day off for all you young’uns out there). For those no longer in school, we’re sure that teachers, too, have played a vital role in shaping your adolescent years – be it the teacher that everyone was afraid of (detention for all of you!), or that one teacher who changed your age-old perception that all teachers are terrible.

In reel-life, currently-airing drama My Teacher Is A Thug (starring Li Nanxing and Bonnie Loo) also gives a different take on what teaching is about with Jia Tianxiong (Li Nanxing) infiltrating SCP Talent Training Centre as a martial arts teacher in order to spy on the principal, Lian Jiaxuan (Phyllis Quek).

Will he be able to discover the joy of teaching, and will he be able to become a real teacher whom the students can rely on? We’ll just have to watch the series to find out.

While we ponder upon the mysteries of My Teacher Is A Thug, there are plenty of other reel-life teachers who have made a difference. Click on for more.

My Teacher Is A Thug airs weekdays 9pm on Ch8. Watch it on Toggle-It-First or catch past episodes on Toggle.

More:
The thug life with Li Nanxing, Jeremy Chan
Li Nanxing on helping car accident victim: “I’m no hero”
Ah Ge Li Nanxing turns stuntman for new drama

The Morning Express
The Morning Express
12 Jun 2015

The Morning Express

Millennials who grew up watching local TV shows would have, at one point or another, idolised Chen Hanwei for his iconic role as Fang lao shi (Fang An Sheng), an inspirational teacher-figure in the 1995 hit drama series, The Morning Express, that turns 20 years old today.

Fang lao shi was without a doubt the best thing to come out of the drama. A character made famous for 1) guiding a bunch of class misfits back on the right path at Yang Guang Secondary School and 2) having immaculately-styled shoulder length hair, the heartthrob was to then-teenage and pubescent kids what the 8 dukes are to youngsters today. And while some might disagree – with better memories of a nubile Ann Kok playing Fann Wong’s younger sister, Fang lao shi will always have a special place in our hearts.

Click here to watch The Morning Express on Toggle.

Great Teacher Onizuka featuring Eikichi Onizuka (Takashi Sorimachi)
Great Teacher Onizuka featuring Eikichi Onizuka (Takashi Sorimachi)
12 Jun 2015

Great Teacher Onizuka featuring Eikichi Onizuka (Takashi Sorimachi)

Onizuka-sensei’s the most badass character on our list: An ex-gang member who first entered the teaching profession with all the wrong objectives in mind (i.e., to get better luck with the chicks because teachers are more “trustable” than gangsters), he aims to become the “greatest teacher” around and manages to successfully turn the lives of his troubled students around with his unorthodox teaching methods.

Good Morning, Sir! featuring Shen Rong (Chen Li Ping)
Good Morning, Sir! featuring Shen Rong (Chen Li Ping)
12 Jun 2015

Good Morning, Sir! featuring Shen Rong (Chen Li Ping)

Good Morning, Sir! reminds us of a time when life was much simpler (without the internet) and Pulau Ubin was still a residential estate with a primary school of its own. Liping’s character as an optimistic and naïve teaching newb was such a hit with kids, it spawned a sequel and “aiyoyo” went on to appear in a series of educational videos for children and students. This drama may be more than two decades old, but the character, catchy theme song and “aiyoyo” catchphrase remains unforgettable even till today.

Click here to watch Good Morning, Sir! on Toggle.
 

Dead Poets Society featuring John Keating (Robin Williams)
Dead Poets Society featuring John Keating (Robin Williams)
12 Jun 2015

Dead Poets Society featuring John Keating (Robin Williams)

We’d definitely fare 100 times better in Literature classes if we had a teacher as inspirational and unconventional (in his teaching methods) as John Keating was to his students. His out-of-the-box methods include encouraging students to rip pages off their textbook and writing poetry to woo the girls, but none was as infectious as his passion for the written word.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Word.

A Place To Call Home
A Place To Call Home
30 Aug 2017

A Place To Call Home

Starring Evelyn Tan, this feel-good drama was on our must-watch lists while we were still in school. Back then, we all hoped to have a teacher just like Yu Wen jie jie (Evelyn Tan), who would listen to us when he had troubles, let her hair down and have fun with us, and stand up for us when the going got tough.

Although this series was only a short 10 episodes, there were plenty of twists and turns as Yu Wen went deaf and she managed to pull through the tough period with all the support of her friends, family and of course, students – and that goes to show that love goes both ways.

Click here to watch A Place To Call Home on Toggle.

Gokusen featuring Kumiko Yamaguchi or Yankumi (Nakama Yukie)
Gokusen featuring Kumiko Yamaguchi or Yankumi (Nakama Yukie)
12 Jun 2015

Gokusen featuring Kumiko Yamaguchi or Yankumi (Nakama Yukie)

She looks dorky on the outside – with her round spectacle frames, gaudy hairstyle and red tracksuit getup, but ‘Yankumi’ (as nicknamed by the students) is not a teacher to be trifled with. As the daughter of a Yakuza (an organised crime syndicate) family clan, she clearly has seen the worst side of things and pulls no punches when dealing with her class of delinquents: she guides them back on the right path by winning their trust and getting them out of harm’s way – but not before doling out a few punches and kicks to the rebellious kids. 

Don’t Stop Believin’
Don’t Stop Believin’
30 Aug 2017

Don’t Stop Believin’

Now, here’s a story you don’t hear every day – Du Siman (Felicia Chin) left her cushy job as a teacher in a top school in favour of joining Brilliante Secondary School, an institution that accepts pupils who have failed the PSLE at least twice.

Not only does she help the students with their academics, she also goes beyond above and beyond her job scope by helping them with their personal problems – Bai Zhixiang (Ian Fang) and Cai Wensheng (Edwin Goh) are among the students with financial problems that she helped guide.

Click here to watch Don’t Stop Believin’ on Toggle.

Harry Potter series featuring Professor Snape (Alan Rickman)
Harry Potter series featuring Professor Snape (Alan Rickman)
12 Jun 2015

Harry Potter series featuring Professor Snape (Alan Rickman)

Snape’s inarguably the most misunderstood teacher on this list no thanks to his constant frowns and/or poker face expression. He may appear to hate the guts out of his student Harry Potter, but he bears no ill intent towards the child and goes out on a limb to protect the son of his first love – to the extent of even dying for him. As much as we hate him, there was hardly a dry eye in the room when Snape breathed his last. Sniffle.

Moulmein High
Moulmein High
30 Aug 2017

Moulmein High

In another drama where a high-flyer gives up her cushy job for a less secure job – in this case, a marketing whiz becoming a teacher, Cynthia Koh plays Miss Ooi, who is put in charge of a group of gifted teenagers who need special attention because of their unique personalities.

These students, who need out-of-the-box methods to learn, often get Miss Ooi into trouble with the rigid vice-principal, but she stands up for them because she wants them to have the best learning experience ever. #teachergoals

Click here to watch Moulmein High on Toggle.

X-Men series featuring Professor X
X-Men series featuring Professor X
12 Jun 2015

X-Men series featuring Professor X

None of Professor X’s achievements are comparable to his endeavours to provide a safe haven for mutant kids to grow up in and school at (because they are persecuted in the normal world) when he founded Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Philanthropic contributions aside, having telepathic powers means Professor X is able to be constantly updated about his students’ whereabouts and wellbeing and be there to help them when necessary - that's like having a teacher on call 24/7!

My First School
My First School
30 Aug 2017

My First School

Xu Le Qing (Julie Tan) is the epitome of happiness – always smiling and joyful, no one knows about her painful childhood memories when her father passed away. Because of her father, she believes that pre-school education is important and works hard to earn her Diploma of Early Childhood Education.

After she enters the school, however, the real struggle begins as she has to handle entire classes of students who aren’t as cooperative as she thought they’d be – but with her bright nature and never-say-die attitude, she manages to become not only a teacher that they respect, but also a friend whom they can trust.

Click here to watch My First School on Toggle.

Star Wars series featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars series featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi
12 Jun 2015

Star Wars series featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi

The adage of saying one is never too old to learn rings true for Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is mentor and teacher to both father and son (Anakin and Luke Skywalker) in this series. Yes, he made a few mistakes when guiding the former (who eventually succumbed to the dark side to be Darth Vader), but at least he was wise enough not to commit the same mistakes a second time around when he crossed paths with young Luke. 

Special mention: Magic School Bus featuring Ms Frizzle
Special mention: Magic School Bus featuring Ms Frizzle
12 Jun 2015

Special mention: Magic School Bus featuring Ms Frizzle

Not gonna lie. We are fans of Ms Frizzle’s kooky dress sense and ever-changing hairstyle. She puts the ‘fun’ in Science, even if she only exists in the world of 2D. And there’s no better testimony to her enduring appeal and relevance than the fact that the old cartoon will be given a reboot and CGI-facelift for a new series called 'The Magic School Bus 360°' for growing internet TV service, Netflix, in 2016. We're ready to relearn science all over again!

Related:
Which celeb had the hots for his history teacher?
Korean celebrities who would make awesome teachers

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