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an overdue letter

October 18, 2011

Dear Mr. Beehler,

I’ll be honest. We all thought you were kind of loopy.  For my first three years of high school homeroom, you overlooked the forged signatures on my hall passes.  I doubt you were that clueless and probably had suspicions that I was spending my homeroom periods hanging out with the other choir nerds in a practice room. In my defense, we were rehearsing our barbershop quartet …sometimes. Regardless, thanks for overlooking my forged signatures. Maybe I was just lucky that Mr. Long and I had similar handwriting.

All the upperclassmen told me that you were an easy teacher who regularly left the classroom mid-sentence. Intrigued, I signed up for your AP Government class. We had a lot of goofy teachers at MHS, but you were easily one of the goofiest. I appreciated your dry sense of humor and the 45 minute tangent about the mutiny on the Bounty on the first day of class. What I didn’t expect were the countless episodes of The Wonder Years you’d show instead of lecturing.

Now, I loved The Wonder Years growing up. But when we watched this show regularly, I began to think you were too lazy or too scatterbrained to prepare a full lesson plan. Many students used these viewings as naptime. I enjoyed it, but didn’t understand why we were watching it. I mean, I understood why Mr. Howard showed us Saving Private Ryan in World History the year before and why we were watching Hamlet in Mrs. Fischer’s English class, but The Wonder Years? What do Kevin and Winnie have to do with Government?

Well, Mr. Beehler, Netflix recently added The Wonder Years to its list of instant play titles. On Friday, I desperately needed some time to relax so I opened a bottle of cabernet and fired up Season 1 Episode 1. By the time Monday rolled around, I had watched two full seasons.

And, Mr. Beehler, I get it. The Wonder Years is full of rich cultural references that deal directly with the shaping of modern American government. It discusses Vietnam, civil rights, the women’s movement, the peace movement. I had no idea. I had completely missed your point in showing episodes during class. I had no idea it was so relevant.

So thank you, Mr. Beehler, for attempting to make Government a little more interesting. And I’m sorry, Mr. Beehler, that I wrote you off as just another jaded social studies teacher.



(although you definitely called me Irene for the first two years of homeroom)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2011 10:48 am

    At my school – the government teacher shows The West Wing for class. 🙂

  2. October 18, 2011 4:07 pm

    Ours had us watch the Wizard of Oz. Something about political symbolism. You can tell the message didn’t really stick with me…. 😉

  3. October 18, 2011 4:13 pm

    I watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail for World Government. Still not sure of the connection.

  4. October 18, 2011 6:27 pm

    My government teacher named exams after classic rock songs and gave us extra credit we could name the band.

  5. October 18, 2011 8:05 pm

    I love this post! So often I think that what I do with my students is “lost” on them, but I retain the hope that one day they will realize that there really was a method to my madness! This post gives me hope.

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