Q&A #82: What comic book character would you want as your teacher (or your student)?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

In honor of the back-to-school season, we ask:

What comic book character would you want as your teacher (or your student)?



Anika

When I was in seventh grade I went through my one real moment of rebellion as a school girl. I was a very good student all throughout grade school; the kind that always does her homework and pays attention in class and raises her hand to ask questions the teachers understand and want to answer. I was a Good Little Girl. But in seventh grade “general math” I had Ms. D and she taught exactly what had been taught in fifth and sixth grades. It was boring and I already knew how to do it. She assigned, I kid you not, 80 problems for homework every night and I refused to waste my time on it. It wasn’t my fault that not everyone else in my grade had grasped this. Each night I did the first problem, the last problem, and a random problem in the middle to prove I could do it — but no more. I did well on all the tests and quizzes but I flunked homework and got a C overall landing me in the same “general math” class in eighth grade (making it four years in a row). Ms. D never asked why I refused to do my homework and to this day I hate math.

Also in seventh grade I had Biology with Mr. C. I didn’t like it because it wasn’t easy the way reading-based classes like English, French, and History were. It wasn’t easy and I found it “icky”. I made up excuses for why I shouldn’t have to do things — on dissect a sheep’s eye day I explained I was a vegetarian, on experiment with flowers day I cried allergies, for the two week long research assignment I begged to be allowed to read a biography. Mr. C. said no. I told him I didn’t need to know how to dissect things, or how to do a research project, I didn’t want to be a biologist. But Mr. C said the point of seventh grade was to learn how to learn — that I’d been coddled by my elementary teachers because I was a good and bright student who liked learning, at least with books. But just because I didn’t like this way of learning didn’t mean I didn’t need to know how to do it. He made me stay after school to make-up for the flowers and the sheep’s eye. He didn’t let me get away with any more of my clever excuses or bargain for an easier way to do the work. I hated Biology and I hated Mr. C but when I left seventh grade I said he’d been my best teacher and I currently work in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department of a university.

I choose Batman because I know he would make me work and any praise or reward given would be both earned and deserved. I choose Batman because if he thinks I am worth teaching it means I am.



Caroline

This is a terrible idea and I would regret it immediately. But. I would nominate Charles Victor Sage, DC’s original Question, to be my mentor.

Or, well, not exactly. I’m not interested in hanging out with the very first version of the character, created by Steve Ditko as an outlet for his objectivist philosophy. He was just no fun at all, and sort of a violent wackadoo. But in the ‘80s, writer Denny O’Neil reinvented the character as a seeker and philosopher (who could also solve crimes and kick some major butt). In the 2000s, he began showing up again with an eye to improving the minds and skills of female crime fighters — first Huntress, then ex-cop Renee Montoya, who eventually replaced him as the Question. (Because he died but that’s sad and this is hypothetical so let’s gloss over it).

Vic has a good track record as a teacher, but what would I want him to teach me? Martial arts, mountain climbing, investigative skills and general sneakiness of course. There’s also that meditation and inner peace thing that he seems to have down. The truth is that I am awful at meditation, concentration or just generally sitting still. None of those are my strong points. (HOW CAN YOU KEEP REFRESHING TWITTER IF YOU’RE MEDITATING?) Sometimes I fantasize about really trying those things, though. This is why, though I know the Question would be an infuriating teacher, it’s also a tempting thought. I mean, if it works on a tough, cynical hothead like Renee Montoya, maybe there’s chance for the rest of us. . .



Jennifer

It seems my co-bloggers are braver souls than I am, because I don’t think I’d fare very well with such tough, borderline terrifying teachers. What I look for in a teacher is someone who can transfer their passion for a subject to me, someone who is compassionate but still pushes their students toward success, and someone who is knowledgeable enough to help students with any and all individual projects they might wish to pursue. In many cases, this is an impossible ideal. But we’re talking about fictional characters, and there’s at least one fictional character in comic books who fits this description to a T — Dr. Henry Phillip McCoy.

First of all, Hank knows EVERYTHING. He’s a scientist (a biologist, chemist, geneticist, medical doctor, and anything else the text needs him to be on a given day), but he also has an encyclopedic knowledge of literature, philosophy, and the classics — which probably means he also has an encyclopedic knowledge of history as well. He can teach pretty much anything, and while I’d love to listen to him talk about literature or history, my personal favorite subjects, I’d also be more than happy to sit in on one of his science classes.

Because the thing about Hank is, he LOVES what he does, he loves learning, and I absolutely believe he can pass that love onto his students. If anyone in the world could make me love chemistry, it would be Hank McCoy. And he’d do it while explaining the subject in ways the students would understand, making interdisciplinary connections to appeal to different learners and running a highly differentiated classroom attuned to each student’s individual needs. He’d be such a good teacher that even if I didn’t love the material I’d still try my best, because who would want to disappoint Hank?

I’m just saying — if Hank were real, and teaching at a real high school or college, students would be fighting to get into his courses.



Sigrid

I’m an air traffic controller. The training process to become an air traffic controller starts out with a certain amount of encouragement and explanation. However, the closer one gets to being good at it, the more one is likely to be trained by sarcasm combined with an incredulity that you cannot perform the simplest tasks. Also, depending on how badly one screws up, yelling. Because of this I think I would be well-suited to learn things from Oracle.

We’ve seen Babs teach a number of people how to be vigilante heroes. She is clear, she is succinct, and she explains when she has time to do so. But when her trainee is out there screwing up, Oracle has no time for egos or politeness. She gives orders and it’s the job of her student to not screw things up any further. I have to say, Babs reminds me of the trainer who kicked my chair as she yelled “You’re not asking the planes to F&^%ing tea!”

I don’t think I could learn to be a vigilante superhero from Barbara Gordon. But I’d be happy to take a class in anything she offered.


What comic book character would you want as your teacher (or your student)?

  • Caroline

    There is some interesting educational theory at work here, I have to say. . .now I’m thinking of the best teachers I’ve had and which superheroes they remind me of.

    I’m mildly surprised that none of us (Jennifer?) chose to have Captain America teach us how to escape from bondage, because that’s apparently a thing he does. Or maybe just for Tony, I forget.

  • @Caroline It’s possible I got carried away with my academic background and this question did not ACTUALLY require references to differentiated classrooms. The more I think about it, the more I think Hank McCoy is less the teacher I want to HAVE than the teacher I’d want to BE.

    And I’d be intimidated by Steve, I think. Plus I totally suck at things like strength and coordination and physical memory and I’d be too ashamed of my absolute failure to actually learn anything from him about self-defense.

    Steve and Tony are free to continue their bondage lessons all they want, though.

  • Kari

    I would like to have a legitimate opinion on this, but I am way too busy laughing at “You’re not asking the planes to F&^%ing tea!”

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