Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Assassination Classroom and Great Teachers

If there's one show this season I was not quite expecting going in to love as much as I do, it would definitely be Assassination Classroom. I had heard that it would be a fun little romp about a crazy, tentacled teacher and his students' attempts to kill him, but I was not expecting the show to also have a deeper side to it, one that has quite some heart to it as it explores the relationship between teacher and student. Sure, the hyper-powered Koro-sensei is going to destroy the world in a year, and sure, he has invited one classroom of thirty kids to try to assassinate him before he does so, but as it turns out, Class 3-E is no ordinary class; it is a class of low-performing students at a prestigious prep school, and as such, many of the students have all sorts of issues with self-esteem and the like. As it turns out, though, Koro-sensei takes his teacher duties seriously, and in addition to dodging his students' attacks at Mach 20, he also helps them out with both homework and their personal growth. The complete contrast between the assassination attempts and the teacher-student relationship building seems like it should not work at all, but it sure does, and makes for a wonderful viewing experience. No wonder the original manga is so popular in Japan right now.

Homework help? Attempted murder? Who said the two don't go together?
Now that I think about it, there are actually quite a number of anime and manga series that involve teachers, oftentimes of unusual sorts, and how they connect with their students. There's Great Teacher Onizuka, which sees a former gang leader try to become a teacher as he ends up with a class of problem children. Negima! features a ten-year-old take on teaching duties while all sorts of magical hijinks go on. For more "normal" stuff, there's Doki Doki School Hours, and the upcoming anime adaptation of Denpa Kyoushi will feature a NEET who gets thrown into teacher work. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, too. It's pretty clear that there is an appeal for these types of stories, where teachers are shown going beyond their teacher duties to really connect with and help their students.

In many cultures, teachers are well-respected in general, while at the same time stories of especially nasty teachers also frequently appear. It is as if we realize that there is quite a lot of weight and responsibility that goes with the teacher role, such that a bad teacher can be absolutely ruinous, but a good teacher is absolutely irreplaceable.

Christianity also gives teachers a lot of respect, and places a lot of responsibility on them. The fact that Jesus was frequently referred to as a teacher is already a good indicator of how respected teachers are, as well as how really good teachers care about those they teach. At the same time, the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers, because nothing is worse than a person in a respected position of instruction spreading falsehoods to people who generally do not know better to question him. James 3 warns that not everyone should be a teacher: the teacher role comes with an extra strict judgment because of how influential it is.

Great teachers, though, are truly worth celebrating. They can not only help children learn important things for their future, but they can also help those children through the various difficulties they encounter growing up. Shows like Assassination Classroom are not just fun, entertaining shows, but are also celebrations of great teachers. Even if said teachers are trying not to get killed by their students.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Frank!

    Now I want to try Assassination Classroom. I haven't been following a lot of anime lately, but this one sounds fun!