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Politically Motivated Teacher

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"Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial "Fourth of July" brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes."
— Teacher in Dazed and Confused dismissing her class into the summer holidays

There is always that one teacher, the one who is always bringing their politics into the classroom and is extremely passionate about it. Be it about religion, the government, or ethics, morality, and values, this teacher is always ready with their own arguments and/or long-winded speeches. Typically, this person teaches a class involving social sciences (e.g.: history, sociology, politics), but it can be any teacher in any subject. College professors are even more likely to be politically motivated.

The Politically Motivated Teacher can be portrayed either as a positive or a negative thing, generally depending on whether or not the teacher's views align with the author's. If it's shown in a positive way, then the teacher will often stimulate intelligent debate, helping his or her students to think more critically about the events in the world around them and get more involved in society. If it's shown negatively, the teacher will run the classroom with an iron fist and punish students who voice dissenting political views instead of promoting discussion. Either way, expect anvils to be dropped like a bowling ball tied to a weak tree branch.

A Hippie Teacher can be related, for reasons of hippies being very politically radical. The negative version of this trope often takes the form of a Sadist Teacher with Straw Character elements, while a positive version is usually a Reasonable Authority Figure.

This trope is definitely Truth in Television, as any college student (and sometimes high school students) can attest to. The political alignment of these teachers often correspond with the general atmosphere of the school in which they teach, though there are without a doubt many who go against the grain of their institution's political philosophies.


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    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Dykes to Watch Out For plays with something seen which really happened in this exchange from 2005 between Neoconservative student Cynthia and Ginger:
    Cynthia: The evidence speaks for itself. On a faculty of 250, there are only 15 openly Republican professors.
    Ginger: What are you proposing? Ideological diversity through affirmative action? That's real Conservative.
    Cynthia: I'm proposing that impressionable students hear all sides of the issues. Does that threaten you?
    Ginger: If all sides includes Creationism and Holocaust denial and the novels of Ayn Rand, then, yeah, I guess it does.
    Cynthia (angrily scribbling): 4:22 p.m. Professor Ginger Jordan mocks one of my intellectual heroines. (to Ginger) I'll just post this little incident to the Academic Freedom Complaint Center.
    Ginger: Cynthia, if you really want more Republicans on the faculty, try getting our salaries quadrupled.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In An American Carol we get a whole musical number dedicated to this trope.
  • Clueless has Miss Geist, who wants to inspire her students to save the environment and aid disaster victims. She's portrayed as dorky, but likable.
  • The teacher obsessed with Vietnam in Back to School brings a certain kind of psychotic passion to his classes.
    "Mr. Tergeson's really committed. In fact, I think he was."
  • Dead Poets Society: Mr. Keating spends more time spouting Romantic and Transcendentalist ideals in his class than actually teaching. Then again, he is a literature teacher, so that comes with the territory. The trope is played with because Keating arouses the ire of parents and administrators for actually realizing what it was he was teaching and doing so effectively.
  • The Women's Studies professor from Sorority Boys is a terrifying example of a Straw Feminist. Among the lecture topics in her class is the "Myth of the Male Orgasm," prompting a confused look from Dave, the only male in the class.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a negatively-slanted Trope Codifier. She's overtly sympathetic to Mussolini and Francisco Franco, an ideology that turns her classroom into self-centered personality cult. Her teachings warp her charges to the point where one girl goes to fight in the Spanish Civil War and dies. She's pointedly called out on this at film's end.
  • Professor Radisson from God's Not Dead is an atheist philosophy teacher whose first action in his new class is to make his students sign a statement saying "God is Dead" or else he'll fail them; the Christian protagonist, Josh, refuses to do so, so Radisson challenges him to debate God's existence with him in front of all the classroom at the end of every class session, and if he can't prove God's existence he'll fail him. It becomes clear that Radisson only intends to humiliate him for his beliefs and it later turns out that he is a Hollywood Atheist who hates God because his mother died of cancer when he was little.
  • The teacher in Dazed and Confused tries to implant leftist ideas in her students by, for example, telling them about her "bitchin'" experience at the 1968 Democratic Convention (where anti-war protesters and reporters were attacked by police on live TV). She also delivers the current page quote.
  • Jojo Rabbit: Fraulein Rahm, who draws caricatures of Jewish people and tells the kids that it's how Jews actually look like. She's much worse than her book counterpart - in this version she's had TWENTY children just so they can serve as Hitlerjugend soldiers for Nazi Germany.

  • Justified in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. The History and Moral Philosophy class every student is required to take attempts to implant pro-military beliefs and encourage joining the Federal Service, so the teachers — all retired veterans, by law — naturally push these political and philosophical values on their students. HMP instructors are very focused on exposing their students to this philosophy and belief, but as is explicitly pointed out, you can't fail and there are no penalties for either sleeping through the course or passionately disagreeing with every word being stated. In the film version, he puts his money where his mouth is, resuming his commission with the Mobile Infantry.
  • A similar example is Kantorek in All Quiet on the Western Front, who encourages his students to join the German army in World War I, greatly romanticizing it as something glorious. Of course, he couldn't be farther from the truth. One of Kantorek's former students gets payback when he becomes his commanding officer. He reminds Kantorek of a fellow student who died in agony after joining the front lines thanks to Kantorek's speeches and makes Kantorek follow humiliating orders.
  • Professor Dillamond in Wicked is extremely passionate about his beliefs about the prejudice against talking animals in the school system and his fears about what is happening to them. Fears which turn out to be correct. This has a profound effect on Elphaba, particularly because of the prejudice against her for her green skin.
  • The eponymous subject of Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie Schwartz, was said to have been very much an activist, even giving his students all A grades to prevent them from being drafted.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Dolores Umbridge is a negative version who teaches Ministry propaganda and punishes students (and eventually teachers) for disagreeing with the party line.
  • An interesting inversion in Avi's Nothing But The Truth, in which everyone except the teacher (and the student that the book focuses on) has an agenda.
  • Bill's old writing professor in It is a negative example. He cared more about pushing a liberal agenda than about teaching his students how to write good stories. He failed Bill out of his class solely because Bill challenged his attempts to make everything about politics. Bill's final "screw you" to his old professor was to send him a copy of a magazine that liked one of Bill's stories and published it.
  • In Speak, Melinda's teacher Mr. Neck likes to rant about various political topics, such as how illegal aliens are stealing jobs from hardworking Americans.
  • This is both parodied and used for dramatic effect in the Father Brown story The Crime of the Communist. The suspects are all professors who have exaggerated political views based on their subject: a cartoonishly reactionary professor of Roman History, a Social Darwinist professor of Chemistry, and a stringently Communist teacher of political science. The victims of the murder are two wealthy donors hoping to endow a Chair of Economics, so naturally the communist looks guilty as sin. It's not him, though; the titular "crime" being failing to return a borrowed book of matches.
  • Caging Skies: Fraulein Rahm. A schoolteacher in Nazi Austria, she even brainwashes the most innocent and tolerant of schoolchildren into being Aryan supremacists. She teaches the children a chart of different human races, with the Aryan race on top and the apes at the bottom, and the black people right next to the apes, saying that the only difference between the two is the lack of hair. She says that the Aryan race is the best because they are far more evolved than the "inferior" races.
    Mathias Hammer, known for asking oddball questions, asked her if we gave the other races time, wouldn't they eventually move up the evolutionary scale on their own like we had? I was afraid Mathias was going to be scolded, but Fräulein Rahm said his question was essential. After sketching a mountain on the chalkboard she asked, 'If it takes one race this much time to evolve from here to there, and another race three times as long, which race is superior?

    We all agreed it was the first.

    By the time the inferior races catch up to where we are today, the peak, we won't be there any more, we'll be way up here.' She drew too quickly without looking. The peak she added was too high and steep to be stable.
  • Lord Wyldon, the training master of the pages in Protector of the Small, frequently reminds his students that women don't belong in combat and that the breakdown of tradition will doom Tortall. He makes sure everyone knows that he disapproves of Keladry's presence in their midst. However, her sheer determination to overcome all obstacles slowly forces him to change his opinions. Later, he realizes that his focus on trying to drive her out led him to neglect important lessons for the other students, leading to the horrific failure of Joren and Vinson in the Chamber of the Ordeal, and he resigns from his post.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Square Pegs had a Vietnam veteran turned football coach who obsessively compared every event on the football field to Vietnam, and blamed the team's defeat on the treacherous liberal media.
  • One episode of Bronx Zoo had a science teacher become a born-again Christian after surviving an accident where a cross-shaped beam narrowly missed falling on him. He became convinced the Bible was the literal word of God and started teaching creationism rather than evolution in his class.
  • Not exactly a teacher, but in The George Lopez Show, Max's Treetop Rangers leader liked to rant about how recycling is bad and how cops should be allowed to profile Mexicans. When Max's dad George confronts him, saying that he is Mexican, he says "Oh, not like you. I mean one of those 'Me no speakee' Mexicans."
  • Nicky Reagan tangles with a leftist teacher in one episode of Blue Bloods and is denied entrance to Rutgers after flaming her on Twitter. When Erin takes Nicky to apologize, the teacher has a portrait of Che Guevara on her wall. Things go downhill from there.
  • Romper Stomper: McKew is a professor at the university which the Antifasc members attend (he's involved with the group as well). His lectures from what's seen don't even try to be neutral, but denounce the US and Israel for imperialism.

  • Gavin Stone in The Lenny Henry Show. He's an ex-soldier turned primary school teacher, and mostly the joke is him treating the kids like new recruits, but he also has strong opinions on the politics of war, and will lecture them on the subject with the slightest provocation. For instance, in the nativity play sketch:
    Mr Stone: Hold on, what's this?
    Second Wise Man: Frankincense, sir. It's a kind of oil.
    Mr Stone: Oil, is it, boy? That why you signed up? To plunder the region's natural resources? Send innocent lads to do the dirty work while politicians line their pockets? Not in my platoon, son. Stand down, I'm demoting you to a sheep.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • In the early arcs of Better Days Fisk had to deal with a particularly anvilicious liberal social studies teacher.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Birkenbake of The Fairly OddParents! is a literal Hippie Teacher that tries to get his students to "fight The Man" and calls Mr. Crocker — another teacher — a puppet of the military-industrial complex.
  • Mr. McKay, Bobby's newest science teacher on King of the Hill is a really insistent environmentalist, assigning his students homework like writing their parents "environmental tickets" for doing things that aren't green and protesting the building of a landfill that threatens a species of algae.
  • South Park's Mr. (or Mrs.) Garrison has been known to do this on occasion, though less blatantly, as it's often left to offhand comments (such as in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut when he declared the Mothers Against Canada were "probably just all on their periods"). In "Follow That Egg!," however, (s)he manipulates the lesson in a ploy to keep gay marriage illegal (though his/her motivation is more personal than political). (S)he does the same thing when it comes to teaching evolution (first being vehemently opposed to it as a creationist, then switching to being vehemently anti-religion). (S)he explains that her/his only consistent belief is that you have to be an asshole to anyone who disagrees with you.
    • PC Principal, debuting in season 19 in the wake of a wave of political correctness sweeping the country, is an exaggerated caricature of this trope, aggressively pushing his social justice agenda on both staff and students, violently assaulting Cartman in the boys bathroom for saying "capiche" and "spokesMAN" (instead of "spokesPERSON"), hypersensitive to the possibility that his motives are anything less than pure and sincere, and symbolising the arrival of Left-Liberal political correctness in the town forevermore. Naturally, one of his first acts is to fire Garrison for being a racist.
  • The Fire Nation schools in Avatar: The Last Airbender are staffed entirely with these sorts of teachers, whose lessons all carry a heavy undercurrent about how wonderful their country is and how their imperialism is for the good of the world. This has less to do with the teachers themselves and more the Fire Nation seeing that these values are imparted to the younger generation. Since the Fire Nation has been in this state for a hundred years, it's likely the school was like this before the current faculties were ever old enough to attend.
  • Daria: Radical feminist Ms. Barch, though her motivations are more personal than political. She never bothers to espouse any feminist viewpoints, nor tries to teach any to her students. She simply uses class as an opportunity to repeatedly vent about her no-good ex-husband, and take out her frustration on the male students.
  • Education for Death: The teacher of a class of boys in Nazi Germany actually wears a party uniform to work while he indoctrinates his pupils.
  • Recess: Miss Grotke is anti-racist, feminist, and environmentalist. She's also strangely rigorous about it, teaching the students things like Critical Theory and assigning readings from Beowulf. Keep in mind that this is a fourth grade class.