Learning about Teaching from Cartoons

My good friend and mental mentor, Bill Ferriter recently waxed philosophical about the lessons for teachers can be squeezed from children’s animated television.  I agree with him.

Just this morning, while I was watching cartoons while my children sleep with my children, I came upon an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants that I had seen several times before.  But, this time, I was able to appreciate it in a whole new light.  The scene opens with Spongebob’s venerable boating teacher, Mrs. Puff, receiving a warning that her teaching license is up for renewal.  Watch the clip below to see what I mean:

So, what’s the take-home lesson for our education system?  Should we dwell on the fact that this teacher is being judged on her students’ passing rate?  Should we be outraged at the ridiculous idea that a teacher could be fired because one of her students has failed repeatedly? Or, should we side with the inspector and place responsibility for our students’ success firmly on our shoulders?  Should the powers that supervise teachers focus on data as the only measure of a teacher’s value?

Or, is this just another ridiculous plot line from a silly show designed to entertain children?

What do you think?

One thought on “Learning about Teaching from Cartoons

  1. To me, Paul, the most interesting strand of conversation here is what we can learn about the public’s perception of teaching — and teacher evaluation — from these kinds of clips in popular media.

    In the end, the folks who write scripts for Spongebob probably represent the masses a whole lot better than guys like you and I who live and breathe education on a daily basis — so the (mis)conceptions that they incorporate into their programs probably serve as accurate reflections of what the general public thinks about schooling.

    Wouldn’t it be great if there was a time in the not too distant future where Mrs. Puff was being called on the carpet because her students weren’t asking and answering their own questions or because they hadn’t mastered the skills necessary to learn from collaborative conversations?

    That will be the proof that schools have TRULY turned a corner and cemented meaningful change in our buildings.

    Rock on,


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