Teachers Make a Difference

Thanks to Jamie Steinheimer, whoever she is, for creating this picture. She uploaded it to facebook sometime yesterday and it has since gone viral with over 13,000 views and shares in a few hours.

For those who are not 80s babies or came of age in the 90s, let me explain the significance of this seemingly mundane picture.

The bottom half of the picture are the main characters from “The Magic School Bus,” a mid-90s tv show, which was originally a popular Scholastic book series. The books and subsequent tv show helped young children, like myself (and was originally targeted at children of color and females, hence the strong female characters, to encourage participation in the sciences), learn about science in a fun and interactive way. We watched Ms. Frizzle and her (more than likely) third grade class explore various scientific concepts primarily through experiments. The best part about the show was that the class was hands on learning to the extreme because the school bus could transform, shrink, and time travel amongst others amazingly awesome verbs. One of my personal favorite shows was when the class entered the body as they learned about white and red blood cells. And do you remember Ms. Frizzle’s popular catchphrase? No, not nerdy like me, huh? “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” Who knew that Ms. Frizzle had the best advice that a teacher can give to any student. I still need to listen!

Unsurprisingly, her students grew up and became, according to Jamie Steinheimer, the Planeteers of “Captain Plant and the Planeteers fame.” The show was an earlier 90s cartoon series that preached and promoted love and compassion, especially for our planet, embodied by the earth spirit, Gaia. Ms. Frizzle is that you? The Planeteers would travel the world in the Geo-Cruiser (think Magic School Bus meets Pimp My Ride: Environmental Edition; it used solar power to transport the Planeteers around the planet. It would be no bueno if the Planeteers polluted the earth, duh!). When the villainous polluters became too difficult for the Planeteers to handle, they would shout, “Let our powers combine,” and they would summon Captain Planet who was the environmental, pollution-stopping superhero. This show, like many of the shows after it, notably Power Rangers, stressed the idea of teamwork, specifically the idea that the whole is greater than its individual parts. Once again an excellent lesson to teach to young impressionable students.

Ms. Frizzle, as a current educator, I would like to say, “Thank you!” You inspired your students to continue to explore, learn, and eventually fight for what they believed to be true. As they grew older, they took heed of your earlier lessons, and in turn spread the message forward to others.

You inspire me. You remind me, and other educators out there that:

Teachers make a difference.


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