Front of the Class


The recent Bollywood film, Hichki, featuring Rani Mukerji, made viewers aware of the neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome (TS). The disorder is characterised by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalisations called ‘tics’. A lesser-known counterpart on the same theme, is the Hollywood movie ‘Front of the Class’, directed by Peter Werner. Released in 2008, this movie is based on a novel by the same name, which was written by Brad Cohen.
‘Front of the Class’ is the story of author Brad Cohen’s experiences in living with TS, from childhood through adulthood. As a child, Brad is ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and shunned. With a ‘never give up’ attitude he is able to overcome the difficulties in life and achieve his dream of becoming a teacher.
The film especially throws light on the lack of awareness on the subject in his growing years, even among those in the medical profession. Brad grows up being held at fault by his teachers for disturbing the class with his ‘odd noises’. His parents are also suggested various ‘cures’ and reasons for his tics. Finally, his mother brings a ray of hope into his life on learning about TS and convincing his doctors that it cannot be cured.
As Brad grows up, he is encouraged to become ‘the teacher he never had’. After being rejected by several schools due to his tics, he is finally accepted as a teacher. He works with passion and determination and also goes on to win the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award.    
This film comes as a breath of fresh air, providing viewers with a unique perspective- the life of a teacher with a disorder. Front of the Class is a must-watch that should be on every teacher’s list.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of August, 2018.