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Education Humor
With Regina Barreca

What if 24s Jack Bauer Taught Third Grade?


What if 24s Jack Bauer were a third grade teacher? What if Sawyer from Lost taught ninth-grade English?

This wild thought occurred to me as I was watching last years shows on DVD.

(Why am I watching old programs when the new ones have begun? Because Im too impatient to watch the episodes on television because of the constant commercial interruptions and because -- to be honest -- I often will forget what was happening before the commercial interruption. Like many women I know, I seize the break as a chance to wash dishes, throw in a load of laundry, feed the cats, etc., and am totally out of sync with the tense rhythm of these complicated shows by the time I plop back on the couch. Its better not to permit myself the lapse of attention, Ive discovered. Hey, if Im making the commitment to TV, its got to be a total commitment.)

So I started to wonder: what if the characters we know from television programs became the people we work with at school?

I first thought of Jack Bauers character from 24 as an elementary school teacher because, in nearly every episode, he has cause to yell out Show me your hands! Actually, Jack has only two ways of addressing people: ENTIRELY IN A VOICE REPRESENTED BEST BY CAPITAL LETTERS or in an intensive-eye-contact-whisper. Thats it. He never speaks in a normal tone of voice, ever. And I realized that the only other people I knew who spoke that way were the teachers of the earliest grades who spent their days declaring WHEN I SAY QUIET TIME, I MEAN QUIET TIME or soothingly, heart-searchingly, sincerely asking I know this is hard for you to hear, but all the green crayons are already taken. Do you think you can take a blue and a yellow right now, as a compromise? Can you do that? For me?

So Jack Bauer would, I think, do well in a classroom shouting SHOW ME YOUR HANDS! a phrase that would then be followed by THEY STILL HAVE PAINT ON THEM! GET TO THE WASHROOM! NOW!

I also asked some of my younger friends, Niahm, Hanley, and Sam, for their suggestions because they are more likely to come up with characters from contemporary programs than I am. (When I wanted to talk about Rhoda from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for example, they started looking at me with pitying faces and backed away slowly.)

These are some TV teachers we, collectively, imagined:

What if Tony Soprano coached junior varsity football? Would he have a panic attack before the first game and then be paranoid about whether his players still respected him? Would Carmella coach the cheerleaders or would she be the principal?

What if George from Seinfeld taught psychology? Would he teach his students how to be repressed, inauthentic, and emotionally duplicitous? (And would he tell them he was really an architect who just teaches psychology on the side?)

How about if Monica from Friends taught first grade? Would all her kids have their pencils sharpened to exactly the same length and would she bake them all different cookies exactly the way they wanted them, as long as she knew she was their favorite teacher in the whole school? (How would she get them to prove it? How much reassurance would she need? Would she compete with Rachel or be friends with her?)

If Liz Lemon from 30 Rock taught A.P. English, would all of her references still be from Star Wars? (I never get put on a jury. I wear my Princess Leia costume and they dismiss me immediately.) Would her students admire her or loathe her?

We decided that Tracy Jordan, also from 30 Rock would teach introduction to philosophy, given as he is to sayings such as "I'm about to drop some truth bombs" and "I don't believe in one-way streets. Not in life and not when I'm driving."

Danny DeVitos character from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia would run the vocational-technical department like a chop shop; Ray Romanos character from Everybody Loves Raymond would advise the school paper; his father, as played by Peter Boyle, would drive the bus, and mom Marie would be the lunch room supervisor; all their students would worship them.

We agreed that Dwight Schrute from The Office would teach earth science (sometimes called energy and ecology -- who knew?) to middle school students. He would begin every class by saying Question?! and then answer it himself, probably while making use of a flip chart. He would carry his own stapler from classroom to classroom. Tony Soprano would always take his parking space and Dwight would plot elaborate revenge.

All the women agreed that Jim from The Office would be that one high-school history teacher everybody loved because, umm, we all love him now and wouldnt actually give a darn what he taught. His female colleagues would adore him more than the students, which is hard to imagine since all the students would really adore him.

Speaking of crushes, we women also agreed that Sawyer would indeed make a terrific English teacher (hes always reading, always,) and whether or not he has a shirt on, he doesnt mind wearing glasses when his paperback is open. Indeed, the female population of the school might secretly prefer him to Jim (even though Jim is way nicer and more admirable on every respectable level). Such is life.

Other TV Teacher suggestions include: Charlotte from Sex and the City running the pre-K groups; the brothers from the funeral home in Six Feet Under advising the Future Business Leaders of America while Dwight advises the Future Farmers of America (Dwight is a landowner, after all: My grandfather left me a 60-acre working beet farm. I run it with my cousin Mose. We sell beets to the local stores and restaurants. Its a nice little farm...sometimes teenagers use it for sex); Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell supervising the dance appreciation program and acting as heads of the prom advisory council. Finally, Ari Gold from Entourage would be head of guidance and tell everybody to Hug it out at the end of a long day.

TV School! Its the way to teach!

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Article by Regina Barreca
Education World®
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