The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 16, 1996 · Page 32
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 32

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
Page:
Page 32
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4 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16. 1996 APPLAUSE THE SALINA JOURNAL TV COMMENTARY: HOW REALISTIC ARE THE TEACHERS IN FALL PRIME-TIME LINEUP? By DIANE HOLLOW AY c. 1996 Cox News Sent ice F or the first time in a long time, the prime- time landscape is populated by almost as many teachers as cops. A pompous professor, a longhaired prep school instructor and an inner-city crusader are among the current crop's prominent members. Usually television has three or four times as many cops as classroom leaders, which is the flip side of reality. In Austin, Texas, as in many other cities, there are many more teachets than cops. In fact, we have approximately 5,000 teachers and 1,000 police officers. But how realistic are the teachers in television's fictional faculty? On the other hand, as long as the portrayals are entertaining and positive, does it matter if they're realistic? NBC's heavily promoted new sitcom "Mr. Rhodes," is about a hip rookie English teacher in a stuffy private school. His young students love him because he's cool, but his colleagues disapprove of his unconventional looks and teaching style. "It's not unusual to have hip teachers — people who can speak the students' language and relate to their experience," said Kevin Caspersen, who teaches theology at St. Michael's Academy in Austin. "We have several on the faculty here who are quite connected to the students." So, while Mr. Rhodes may be a realistic character, his colleagues' reaction to him is not. Walk down the halls of many public and private schools, and you're likely to see young male teachers wearing jeans and ponytails, and young female teachers with tattoos and Doc Martens. In fact, it's unusual in some schools to see teachers dressed conservatively and not interacting with their charges. Historically, most TV teachers have been sitcom characters. Long ago, as far back as "Our,Miss Brooks" in the '50s, the classroom was designated as an inherently funny setting for a series. From the sweat- hogs and their chummy teacher on "Welcome Back Kotter" to the semi-hip teachers on "Room 222" and "Head of the Class," television has turned classrooms into comedy . for generations. This season's newcomers include the one-liner specialist "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher" and the slightly bemused musician-turned- teacher on "The Steve Harvey Show." On both WB Network shows, the teachers are rookies trying to establish themselves in an unfamiliar environment. And it would be impossible to find a more fish-out-of-water teacher than John Lithgow, who plays an alien teaching college courses on "3rd Rock from the Sun." In a less lovable mode is Malcolm McDowell's egotistical, overbearing professor on the new CBS sitcom "Pearl." McDowell's character is reminiscent of John Houseman's fear- provoking prof on "Paper Chase" in the '70s. "A lot of teachers do feel they have to have complete authority," said R.J. Mettelka, a third grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary who has taught middle school and high school in public as well as private schools for two decades. "I always want the respect of my students, but I have respect for them, too." At several schools contacted for teacher comments for this article, some administrators said their teachers don't watch television. They're either busy grading papers or reading books. Others implied TV is little more than a wasteland — but didn't want to be quoted. "Oh, I bet they do watch," said Mettelka, a self-professed TV fan. Mettelka saw a few episodes of the short-lived sitcom "The Faculty" last spring and enjoyed it. He has seen many of the teacher sitcoms from the past and liked some, such as "Welcome Back Kotter," although he didn't think that one was very realistic. Of this season's newcomers, Mettelka is especially fond of "Dangerous Minds," ABC's classroom drama based on the film of the same name. Annie Potts stars as ex-Marine Louanne Johnson, a new teacher who throws herself into saving troubled youths in a rundown inner city school. "Many teachers, especially the new ones, have such idealistic goals," Mettelka said. "They want to become friends with their students. 'Dangerous Minds' portrays most teachers as caring, even in tough situations where they may be able to save only one child. "I thought there was a good contrast between Annie Potts' character and the computer teacher. I think that reajly portrays what happens in education. Many teachers will go out on a limb, while others go by the so-called book. I think a lot of high schools really are that way." In past series, "Mr. Novaks" and "Matt Waters" fell into the by-the- book teacher category, while "The White Shadow" perhaps set the tone for future student-friendly mavericks such as Louanne Johnson. Whether the new shows succeed or not, the influx of more classroom comedies and dramas is probably good in that they present teachers as role models. With kids watching more and more TV, the teacher trend can only be seen as positive. "I watch some television, and teachers are generally portrayed as dedicated people with a requisite sense- of humor," Caspersen said. "To me, teaching is a marvelous profession, one that is often unappreciated in our society. Teachers are often the whipping boys in public and private education, but I think they're the unsung heroes. They're certainly not there for the money. They're there for the kids." Safe Streets Fair Taxes (http://www.vote-smart.org) I GARY SWARTZENDRURER For State Representative District 69 Pol. Adv. Paid For By JOIU HeilH, Chair - Loretta Baize, Trees. 825-9126 Effective Education Common Sense BOSTONIAN* American Made Waterproof Comfortable Make A Statement. PIT CO. DOWNTOWN SALINA Mon.-Fri. 9-6 Thurs. 9-8 Sat. 9-5:30 Views On DentalJiealtfi By Thomas H. Jett, D.D.S. CAPS AND CROWNS Fillings, caps and crowns, and perhaps some bridgework are probably a part of your life experience. I'm talking about the modern restoration of chipped, discolored, worn down, poorly shaped, badly decayed, or partially destroyed tooth to its natural appearance and function. A crown is commonly known as a cap. It is prepared and fitted over a defective tooth, but looks as lifelike, feels as comfortable, and functions as well as a healthy natural tooth. Crowns are made of a variety of materials. Porcelain crowns are primarily used on the front teeth. They can hardly be distinguished from natural teeth. With today's dentistry, there is no reason to have unsightly or malformed front teeth. "Capping" gives the equivalent of a face-lift with renewed encouragement to smile. You can see the results of capping on almost any TV show that employs actors and actresses. *** Prepared as a public service to promote better dental health. SALINA DENTAL ASSOCIATES Harry J. Jett, D.D.S. & Thomas H. Jett, D.D.S. 827-4401 950 Efmhurst Blvd. TfLdJOta. TOOLt°h f e MONTH Save $11 While they last! Special purchase! Vnur uate ' 5 ijnur unice. Let's hear it! Dn Election Day Unte far ujnur candidate. Uate far ujnur cauntruj. But mast nf all... UDtE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CLERKS, RECORDERS, ELECTION OFFICIALS AND TREASURERS. 1 1 'i ' r 0 |'i -i - r 0 | - 1 -i • r'01 1 ri • r 0 | For Results You can Measure, Try the Salina Journal Classifieds! / • V •T'T'T j* Cordless Variable-Speed Driver - Drill with Flashlight • reg. 109.99 • keyless chuck • two batteries fit any Makita 7.2 volt Makita ^ WATERS JwiHa* HARDWARE 460 South Ohio or 2106 South 9th Street

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