Mr. Holland's Opus Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Mr. Holland's Opus' is a 1995 film by director Stephen Herek about a composer who accepts a high school teaching assignment while working on his masterpiece. This asset provides discussion questions about the movie.

Mr. Holland's Opus

Stephen Herek's Mr. Holland's Opus examines the meaning of success as Glenn Holland takes a job as a high school music teacher to earn a living while following his dream of being a great composer. The film follows Holland's personal and professional life over the span of 30 years during which time he suffers setbacks and accomplishes greatness without realizing it. The following questions support classroom discussions about Mr. Holland's Opus.

Making Plans

  • Describe Glenn Holland's background. What does Holland hope to accomplish when he accepts the teaching job? How is the job different from his expectations? Connect this to a time that you tried something new and found out it was different from what you expected.
  • How does the filmmaker characterize Mr. Holland's relationships with his supervisors and coworkers? Why is it important to build relationships with the people you work with? What advice would you offer Mr. Holland?
  • What is Mr. Holland's first impression of his students? How are Mr. Holland's students similar and different from the students at your school? Why do you think Mr. Holland provides extra attention to Gertrude Lang? What are the results of his efforts?
  • How does Holland react to the news that Iris is pregnant? Why does he first respond this way? How does Iris' pregnancy impact Holland's plans? What are some ways a new baby will impact a family?

Making a Difference

  • What are some changes Mr. Holland makes to his teaching methods? Why do you think he decides to make these changes? What is the impact on Mr. Holland and his students? How does the community react? What types of teachers do you respond best to? Would Mr. Holland's methods interest you? Explain your answer.
  • Describe Mr. Holland's experience teaching driver's education during summer school. Why does he accept this position? Do you think this was a good choice? Why?
  • Why does Mr. Holland take an interest in Louis Russ? How does Mr. Holland's attention impact Louis and his family? How does Louis impact Holland?
  • Why is Cole's deafness an example of irony? How does Cole's disability impact his relationship with his father? How does Holland's personal life impact his professional life? Compare Iris' response to Cole's deafness to Holland's response.
  • What is the source of conflict between Stadler and Holland? What ideas do you have for resolving their conflict?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 220 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account