Front of the class , Movie, Week 3

front class

“Front of the Class” (2008) is based on the true story of Brad Cohen, after being diagnosed of Tourette’s syndrome [1]  from a very young age, defies all odds to become an honored teacher. He made noises during class all the time, his teachers always believed his behaviors were attempts to get attention and to play the class clown. In many cases, a person with Tourette’s will have a combination of phonic and physical tics [2] , which may be simple or complex. For example: barking, eye blinking, and coughing, sniffing, Shoulder shrugging. In the most of Brad’s school life, he was humiliated and being joked around by his strange noises and weird behaviors. As Brad determined to be a teacher, the first thing he wanted his student learn is nothing wrong to being different in a group, he believes every student is speciall , even you are different ,try to challenge perceptions and embrace differences, follow your dreams come true.

The most impressive scene in the film is when Brad’s principal called him to the stage during a school assembly. This was his opportunity to educate both the students and the faculty on what Tourette Syndrome was and how it affected him. Brad finished his talk by stating, “I just want to be treated like everyone else.” Those words resonated with many of the students and faculty members.

This is the story of a man who relied on resilience and determination to get through life, and who devoted his existence to helping others like him overcome incredible odds. Brad Cohen, today he is not only an elementary school teacher, he is an author, he is an assistant principal, he is the director have a non-profit organization, he is the founder of camp Twitch and shout [3] wand a public speaker. Brad is a role model for anyone who has difficulty seeing around obstacles and achieving what they truly want to do in life.

Best lines in movie:

  • I just want to be treated like everyone else.
  •  I want be a teacher that I never had that teacher focus on kids’ strengths, not weakness.
  • What I was in the inside is not so much what I was all about (in) the outside.
  • For me it was a reminder about perseverance to never give up, to never make excuses for challenges or weakness that you have in your life. It shows people that you can be successful.
  • They just need an opportunity and that’s what I do, for the past 15 years I’ve been an educator I’ve been making a difference, I’ve been believing in those kids when nobody else was because that’s what it’s all about.
  •   I have always been a guy who could fix, but the one thing I could never fix was the one thing that was hurting you most.


1. Stigma: A mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach.

2. Misbehaviors: To behave (oneself) in an inappropriate way.

 E.g. Tourette’s syndrome made Brad hardly to find a normal job, while his sickness and misbehaviors mistakenly turn to be the social stigma as same as to the most of disable people.

3. ADD/ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder, is a psychological term currently applied to anyone who meets the DSM IV diagnostic criteria for impulsivity, hyperactivity and/or inattention.

4. OCD: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety.

E.g. To teachers, it’s not surprising to see those problems students in class, such as ADD/ADHD or OCD in Taiwan’s normal schools, because they are equal to other students to be taught.

[1] Tourette syndrome:

Also known as Tourette’s syndrome, GTS, Tourette’s, TS, Tourette’s disorder is an inherited tic disorder characterized by multiple motor (physical) tics and at least one vocal tic. Experts believe it is closely linked to damage or abnormalities to the basal ganglia of the brain. The tics may emerge at any age, but do so most commonly between the ages of 6 and 18.

Portrait of Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904) , image from WIKI.

Portrait of Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904) , image from WIKI.

Georges Albest Edouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (1857-1904), a French physician and neurologist, was the first person to describe the condition and its symptoms.

[2] Tics:

Tic is a sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic motor movement or vocalization involving discrete muscle groups. Tics can be invisible to the observer, such as abdominal tensing or toe crunching. Common motor and phonic tics are, respectively, eye blinking and throat clearing.

Examples of simple physical tics may include

(Refer to Christian Nordqvist, Medical News Today,2010 )

■Eye blinking

■Eye darting

■Grinding the teeth

■Head jerking

■Neck twisting

■Nose twitching

■Rolling the eyes

■Rotating the shoulders

■Shoulder shrugging

■Sticking the tongue out

Examples of simple phonic tics may include:



■Clearing the throat






■Yelling and screaming


[3] Camp Twitch and Shout

It is a summer camp experience for children ages 7-16 with a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. The purpose is for children with Tourette Syndrome to experience the joys of camp in a supportive environment.

Refer to CNN ,Leslie Wade ,2009. At Camp Twitch and Shout, Tourette kids can be themselves.

Link : Brad Cohen ‘s Official site

image credit : Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation

image credit : Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation


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