'The Simpsons' cartoon can be a guide for real life teachers

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Washington, July 27 : The funny cartoon family, "The Simpsons" can serve as professional development tools for real teachers, say two leading academics.

"Given the often central role that the figure of the teacher plays in 'The Simpsons,' there is a...rich vein that could be mined for the purposes of teacher education, whether through initial training or continuing professional development," says Gavin Morrison, curator of the University Galleries at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and co-author Alan Britton of the University of Glasgow.

In the animated series, famous for its subversive and satirical subject matter, school plays a central role for its ten-year-old protagonist, Bart Simpson.

School functions as an "authoritative foil to free-spirited youth," say TCU's Morrison and Glasgow's Britton.

"The show's critique and satire often plays out within the context of education involving Bart and Lisa's school and its roster of (usually) dysfunctional teacher and auxiliary employees," the researchers said.

Morrison and Britton argue that educators in "The Simpsons" provide "sources of reflection on professional knowledge, purpose and identity."

"By examining the extreme caricatures (in the show), perhaps teachers at the outset or throughout their careers might consider aspects of their practice that are at the mild end of the spectrum of behavior and character found in 'The Simpsons,'" says Morrison.

The paper, "Images of the Teacher in The Simpsons: Subversive, Superficial, or Sentimental?" has been presented in July 2008 at the conference, "The Teacher: Image, Icon, Identity" in Glasgow, Scotland.

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