Dreading the new school term? Five films to get you motivated

By Ruby Leung

It’s that dreaded time of the year – going back to school after a long and carefree summer holiday. If you need a pinch of motivation for the coming year, here are five movies we recommend

By Ruby Leung |

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Will Smith (right) and his real life son Jaden Smith plays father and son in The Pursuit of Happyness.

An Education (2009)

Set in 1960s London, An Education tells the story of schoolgirl Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan), a top student aspiring to study at Oxford University. Her world is shaken when she falls for a charismatic and seemingly rich middle-aged man. However, things fall apart when Jenny discovers the truth about David and his mysterious life.

Fearing that she has thrown her life away, Jenny turns back to her studies in the hope that her dreams of university are not all lost.

Even if you have made mistakes, you can always work hard for a second chance. If you have failed the DSEs, there is the option to retake, or do an Associate’s Degree and transfer to a Bachelor’s Degree for your third year. There is always hope and a way out.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a salesman who is struggling to build a future for himself and his five-year-old son. He lands an unpaid internship at stock-broker training programme, competing with 19 other interns for a paid position. He finally lands the coveted position with his determination and hard work.

One particularly motivating scene involves Chris Gardner telling his son "Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something … people can’t do something themselves, so they want to tell you 'You can’t do it.'"

You can always make a change in your life with enough determination and a strong work ethic. If you ever feel annoyed about the IES project, just remind yourself that if Chris Gardner can sleep in a public toilet, you can finish that IES project in your air-conditioned room while drinking bubble tea.

English Vinglish (2012)

English Vinglish tells the story of a housewife Shashi, who is mocked by her husband and daughter for her poor English skills. Her family is invited to attend the wedding of Shashi’s niece in New York, so she goes to the city alone to help her sister organise the wedding.

Frustrated with her inability to communicate, she enrols in an English class that offers to teach the language in four weeks. At her niece’s wedding at the end of the four weeks, Shashi has a surprise for her family.

The traumatic experience that Shashi has at the café in New York at the beginning of the film is very relatable to people who struggle to speak English. For those who find English a very hard subject to master, do not give up. Read a lot, (e.g. Young Post), watch some good English films, and write to us!

The Art of Getting By (2011)

George (Freddie Highmore) never hands in homework and skips classes frequently. The school principal can no longer tolerate his behaviour and gives him two options: either he faces expulsion, or he makes up a year’s homework in three weeks in order to graduate.

At first, George decides that he will not be able to catch up on all the assignments. However, he finds out his mum is in heavy debts because she has been trying to pay for his stepfather’s debts. George then begins to work very hard to catch up on his assignments, motivated by the prospects of going to college then finding a job to support himself and his mother.

There are always moments when we ask ourselves, “What is the meaning of life? Why do we need to hand in homework?” Perhaps this film will offer some answers.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius with an eidetic memory, the ability to vividly remember things, though he chooses to work as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One day, a maths professor sees Will solving a problem intended for graduate students, and so decides to take Will under his wing to study Mathematics.

Since Will is also a problem child and has one too many run-ins with the law, the professor arranges therapy sessions for him with a psychologist. With the psychologist’s guidance, Will gradually discovers that the only one holding him back is himself.

Seeing a genius solve graduate-level mathematics problems effortlessly can be rather demotivating if you're wrestling with high school sums. However, the message of this film is that if you have talent and potential, do not waste it: Will’s friend Chuckie tells Will that it will be an insult to his friends if he doesn’t pursue something greater.