Not since Gabe Kaplan’s Mr. Kotter has there been such a hip, big-haired, TV teacher to “help make you smart and listen to your feelings, too.”
Does it really matter if comedian, musician, and now web series star Reggie Watts’ Teach is deeply unclear on the science he’s imparting, if the kids in his classroom are learning important life lessons? Why it’s uncool to bully single-celled organisms, for instance. (“You might be multicellular but there’s no need to be cellulist.”)
As we all know, the best teachers awaken their students’ curiosity, send them bounding off in pursuit of knowledge, rather than spoon-feeding them correct answers.
That’s exactly what Mr. Watts did for—or possibly to—me when he talked about ‘tons: protons, contons, decepticons, and tauntauns. Had he said, “That last one refers to a species of imaginary omnivorous reptomammals from the 3rd highest grossing franchise in film history,” I would’ve spelled it “tontons” without a second thought. But because he deliberately left things a little vague, asking, “How many of you have seen The Empire Strikes Back?” I was motivated to do a little research. Star Wars was never my bag…
It boggles the mind how much more I would’ve learned had the Internet existed back when I was in high school. (Teach’s classroom is most definitely a blast from the past—not an iPad in sight and the overhead projector restored to its place of honor. The quickly uptilted flask is, of course, timeless.)
The opening credits suggest that we should look forward to an education in Literature, Music, and History in upcoming episodes.
Ayun Halliday’s graphic novel, Peanut, is a Young Adult Library Services Association 2014 Quick for Reluctant Young Readers. Follow her @AyunHalliday