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Top Three Messages for Educators from the Barbie Movie

By Dr. Ann McCoy, Dean College of Education, December 1, 2023

Students using microscopes


This summer, I took four of my grandchildren to see the “Barbie” movie. Those of you who have seen the movie know that it is full of messages. My grandchildren certainly heard the messages in the movie, but the message received varied from grandchild to grandchild. As we walked out to the car after the movie ended, the oldest of the four quietly commented on how unexpectedly deep the movie was. The youngest heard a much different message as was evident from her excited comment, “Hey, Grandma! Let’s go to Walmart because I need more Barbies!” As I have reflected on the movie, it has occurred to me that there are some very specific messages for current and future educators. Here are three:

1) At one point, Barbie comments, “It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever.” It would be naive to expect that every day of teaching will be a great day. Teaching is a hard job if you do it well, and our children deserve teachers who do. This quote reminds me of the opportunity teachers have each and every day to make the day a positive one for their students. Sometimes a teacher is the most positive person in a child’s life. It is a huge responsibility to make days great for a classroom of children, but the reward of doing so cannot be matched.

2) “We have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we are always doing it wrong.” Students, families and communities have very high expectations for teachers, and sometimes it can feel like nothing we do is right. In an earlier movie, Barbie commented, “You are braver than you think!” It takes courage to keep doing what we know is right and to make the decisions that are necessary to ensure children are learning, growing and fulfilling their potential. Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler, said, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.” 

3) My favorite quote from the movie is, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back and see how far they have come.” If you think about this from a broader perspective, this very much summarizes one of the most wonderful parts of teaching. Each year, we meet children where they are and help to move them forward. At the end of the school year, we stand still but they keep moving on. Each of us marks an important point in time for each child we teach. Those of you who have been teaching for a while know the wonderfully warm feeling that comes when we see former students achieving their goals and dreams. 

My youngest grandchild has not gone shopping for more Barbies, so that particular message from the movie has not yet been realized. Hopefully, the more meaningful and important messages will speak to you as they did to me.


Dr. Ann McCoy


Dr. Ann McCoy

Professor & Dean, College of Education



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