BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Should The Simpsons be taught in school?

16:23 UK time, Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Parents at a school in Somerset have mounted a petition to stop teaching the cartoon series The Simpsons in a media course. What can children learn from cartoons?

More than 400 parents have signed the petition to stop Kingsmead Community School in Somerset teaching a sequence of the hit US cartoon series in a media module.

Parent Joseph Reynolds said the programme was not the right quality of learning material for his daughter and her classmates, but the school's governors have ruled that the cartoon should remain part of the course.

Do you think The Simpsons has a place in the school curriculum? Or should the school change its media module? What can cartoons like The Simpsons teach children?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    For pities sake, school is about preparing for a lifetime of work and perhaps to give an small insight into our culture and history.

    It certainly isn't about watching moronic american cartoons.

    No wonder we have so many unemployed if this is considered education. What next - PhDs in The Beano?

  • Comment number 2.

    The Simpsons is a very media 'aware' program, which is self referential and makes fun of both the media and itself. As a media studies subject I think it is among the best to learn from because of this, and because it will engage the students who would probably watch the program outside the classes anyway. All this petition shows is that the parents don't understand the course or the subject matter sufficiently and should probably take the time to understand the learning objective of the module before leaping to ill-conceived conclusions. I think the real question should be 'What can subjects like Media teach children?'

  • Comment number 3.

    I am absolutely lost for words. Whoever introduced this into the syllabus should be fired at once. What a joke these people are having.

  • Comment number 4.

    I view the Simpsons as Adult comedy, not for children. No I would not like my daughter being taught that things that occur in that "cartoon" are acceptable! I think it is disgraceful and hope the governors see sense and listen to the parents. I strongly believe that if that number of parents object to something within a school they should be taken notice of. After all, it is their childrens education.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Simpsons is a part of modern culture, and has every right to be included alongside Shakespeare, though it should not replace it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Education really can't get any worse or dumber than this.

    I fear that we are now raising a new young generation who will be even more illiterate and unemployable than the current younger generation. And that'll be quite a feat!

    Perhaps this will help them with life on the dole as they'll be able to watch television all day long and understand the drivel shown?

  • Comment number 7.

    1. At 4:59pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:

    For pities sake, school is about preparing for a lifetime of work and perhaps to give an small insight into our culture and history.

    It certainly isn't about watching moronic american cartoons.

    No wonder we have so many unemployed if this is considered education. What next - PhDs in The Beano?

    Moronic? Have you ever actually watched it? The Simpsons is one of the best examples of contemporary satire.

  • Comment number 8.

    If we have Media courses, Football courses, etc, let us also have a course about Victoria Beckham & how she paints her toenails, why not

  • Comment number 9.

    It's not like it's an English class anyway, it's media studies. As the Simpsons is one of the greatest TV programmes of the last 20 years, surely it must be included in 'media' studies.

  • Comment number 10.

    Parents in jumping onto a bandwagon shocker. Maybe children should be taught to see through media lies and misinformation.... but I guess the government wouldn't want that.

  • Comment number 11.

    It depends on the context. You can not say that the Simpsons have not been a very successful programme, and has the course in question is Media Studies, it would seem quite appropriate to have an understanding of why.

  • Comment number 12.

    2Parents at a school in Somerset have mounted a petition to stop teaching the cartoon series The Simpsons in a media course. What can children learn from cartoons?"

    To ignore the outdated opinions of humourless old fogies.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why not? It might be a cartoon but some episodes deal with worldly situations and often deal with real political and social issues. This holds even more so for South Park. The cartoon might be funny, but beneath a layer of sarcasm a genuine message can be found; related to human interactions, tolerance, idiocracy of politics and war, etc.
    It would be a good lesson for children to recognize the sarcasm and relate it to present or historical issues. As long it is done educational rather than dumbly watching episodes, I don't see any issues.

  • Comment number 14.

    Ah, The Simpsons. I always considered that cheap cartoon to be an overrated joke that should be cancelled. For it to be taught in our education is laughable but also disgusting. It's a stupid, has-been cartoon.

    I stopped watching that crap in 1991!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hahaha! im not laughing im being sarcastic, which idiot thought of this idea, how is learning this going to help the children at all and I dont think it is right to be taught children anyway as the Simpsons in my opinion isnt a programme suited for children , as their use of language isnt the type of language should be hearing and most probably learning.. its just stupid!

  • Comment number 16.

    "
    4. At 5:05pm on 20 Jul 2010, What_to_do wrote:

    I view the Simpsons as Adult comedy, not for children.
    "

    Why is it on in afternoon then?

  • Comment number 17.

    I see no reason to object to the teaching of the Simpsons. If you aren't objecting to the entire Media Studies subject when asking "what can children learn from cartoons", you are simply ignorant of what the subject is actually about.

    However, I would agree that it is one of the less important subjects (along with DT) and it is perfectly understandable to want its removal.

  • Comment number 18.

    "
    6. At 5:09pm on 20 Jul 2010, Wu Shu wrote:

    Perhaps this will help them with life on the dole as they'll be able to watch television all day long and understand the drivel shown?
    "

    No it won't. For that, you'd need a GCSE grade C or higher in Jeremy Kyle.

  • Comment number 19.

    doh!

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm guessing some of the detractors don't actually watch The Simpsons. It's actually acutely observed biting satire and lampoons most of modern culture including the education system. In the hands of a good teacher, there is no reason why valuable and insightful popular media and culture lessons can't be taught using this platform. In the hands of a bad teacher, kids won't learn anything from The Simpsons, or indeed from Shakespeare. As another observer suggested, there's room for this.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let me get this straight. This is a media course. Someone thought that studying a little bit of one of the most successful television programmes of all time as part of a media course might be a good idea.
    I would have thought that would be obvious.

    Do I think it should replace a study of literature, or history, or maths, or science? No - that would be stupid. But to take a lesson or so studying the Simpsons as part of a media course - that seems to me to be entirely valid.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fantastic. Media Studies is an under appreciated course which is just as important as some of the older subjects. I consider the skills I learned in Media Studies some of the most important of my time in school.

    One thing you learn is not being manipulated by the media, something the people who obviously didn't read the whole article before commenting clearly have no experience with.

    As anyone who read the article knows, its not about Shakespeare vs The Simpsons, or watching The Simpsons instead of learning literacy. Its about learning about modern media, which is every bit as important, and arguably more relevant.

  • Comment number 23.

    If there is time for The Simpsons, there is time to teach children spelling, grammar and the correct use of punctuation - they may find these a little more useful when they apply for and try to keep a job.

    Unfortunately many graduates now seem unable to place an apostrophe in the correct position. Wonder why.....

  • Comment number 24.

    Are people aware that this isn't part of an English course? It's part of a media studies course, and The Simpsons is arguably the cultural phenomenon of our time. I suspect the people who are criticising this have either never seen the show or simply didn't get it. It isn't Tom & Jerry. It is satirical, sharp and cutting. It looks at real issues in a humourous way and certainly lampoons the media.

    The show has won endless awards, from Emmys to Empire's greatest TV show of all time. It is in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running sitcom on TV.

    People need to get off their soapbox and think. There is room for more than just Shakespeare and Dickens in a modern education system.

  • Comment number 25.

    As usual with this kind of thing, the naysayers jump in with claims of "dumbing-down" and describing things as "moronic" and "disgraceful", when in actual fact, the only things "moronic" or "disgraceful" are the idiotic views of people who comment without any actual knowledge of the subject matter.

    ANYONE who has watched the Simpsons in detail, examined the dialogue, humour and references to contemporary social issues knows it is one of the most intelligent and insightful works that there has ever been in any medium. It should be mandatory watching not just for kids, but for all the witless goldfish out there who fail to see its utter brilliance.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a lot of complete snobs! The Simpsons is a show that has repeatedly displayed fantastic creativity in terms of scripting, characterisation, plot development and use of humour. But despite this whether any media production is good, bad or indifferent, surely it is still possible to study it and learn from it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thin end of a wedgie...today 'The Simpsons', tomorrow Darwin.....be careful what you wish for.........

  • Comment number 28.

    1. At 4:59pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:
    "For pities sake, school is about preparing for a lifetime of work and perhaps to give an small insight into our culture and history.

    It certainly isn't about watching moronic american cartoons.

    No wonder we have so many unemployed if this is considered education. What next - PhDs in The Beano?"

    I don't think you've ever watched The Simpsons if you're going to label it a "moronic American cartoon." Its use of satire and parody to mock Western society make it one of the wittiest and astute comedies I've ever seen. That said, it's not a children's cartoon, it's geared more towards adults, as its timeslot in the US suggests, as also do the '12' certificates on the Simpsons DVDs. It would be better not to teach The Simpsons in school per se, but to use clips or scenes from the show as examples to supplement the teaching. For example, there's a brilliant depiction of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven in one of the episodes, as well as Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Odyssey (yes, with Homer as Odysseus) to name but a few. They would do well to help explain the stories and make them more interesting to the class.

  • Comment number 29.

    The strong reaction from many people to this story really shows how little is understood of Media Studies. This is not a class or qualification on the Simpsons, or a thumbs up that it is a moral and sound show. It is simply an example of how the many aspects of marketing have been brought together to produce an economically successful programme. The children are being taught how this has been put into practice in the best way, so they may exploit the same techniques in potential careers.

    As for suggesting Shakespeare or another literary genius to replace this, it just does not fit the subject. When was the last time you read as to how Shakespeare marketed his plays and the nuances he used to make them more successful? Ridiculous!

    This bandwagon has too many people on it who don't understand how the wheels work!

    The uneducated are the ones causing the problems here!

  • Comment number 30.

    If they are studying media, then why not study the Simpsons? A well written comedy that appeals to all age ranges, the Simpsons is probably one of the best programmes available on the television. Would these people suggest their children study an uninteresting programme simply because it is deemed to be an "intelligent" one. Let the teachers do the teaching, as long as the children are getting their grades that is all that really matters, after all school is ultimately only a means to gain qualifications so that you can go and learn at a further level.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with the school in this. I think that giving children a diverse range of materials to study is critical to development. The Simpsons has become a phenomenon for a reason. It is brilliant at what it does. I have just gained a degree in Film Studies and Media and studying a wide range of successful media projects is essential to understanding culture and literary devises. Just as Death of a Salesman, An Inspector Calls and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are important, so too are more modern texts, which exactly what The Simpsons is... A very popular, culturally dependant and significant media text.

  • Comment number 32.

    That's it, I give up.

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't presume to tell a police officer how to arrest someone or what they should even arrest someone for. I don't tell the doctor what to do to lessen the pain felt by a patient. I won't tell the soldiers what to do, I won't tell the architect how to design. In fact, I won't presume anything about an area I have never trained in.

    Having been to school is not a qualification in education. In fact, even a qualification in education is just the beginning.

    We are suffering from a backward looking society, grasping for a golden age in everything. I am a Media teacher, having moved on from being an English teacher because I get more response from Media. I have more reward from the joy of learning from my students in Media than I ever got as an English teacher. Rattle all you want about why this might be, but might it be because TIMES CHANGE?

    We are professionals. There it is. We might be accessible and some of us might me (heaven forbid) fallible. But we train to do our best with the fantastic resource that is our students. We will get them to learn to learn, that's our challenge. It really is unimportant what we use to achieve this. Shout away.

    Oh, and in case you flail and splutter, I teach in a comprehensive in special measures where I'm used to the tough end of the chalkface. There are many tougher, but this is no picnic...

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm surprised at the amount of people who seem to think this idea is ridiculous. I'm a teacher myself, and as such always I am always open to novel approaches to teaching. There have been many successful and proven examples of new media being used to great effect in the classroom (such as video games to encourage creative writing - particularly in boys). Using a programme like The Simpsons - especially in a subject like Media Studies - should therefore certainly not be seen as an unorthodox approach. It's topical, satirical, and incredibly successful worldwide, so I do not see why it shouldn't warrant at least a media lesson in school. In the hands of a good teacher, this has the potential to be a great lesson.

    It's sad to see so many people criticise this initiative purely because "it's a cartoon". Education should be forward-looking, and should therefore include new media such as TV and the internet. In fact, it's these backward-looking styles of teaching which children often can't connect with because it has little relevance to them, and thus can result in them getting bored and underachieving.

  • Comment number 35.

    LOL! Brilliant. I have a vision of the whole town sitting in the town hall with the mayor discussing this... The Simpsons is funny, satirical and relevant to modern society. Looking beyond the garish cartoon aspect of it, there is a definate subtle irony to it.

    Should it be taught as a subject in schools? Hmmm, maybe as a package of other such shows to give a broad overview, maybe with the likes of shows like The Office or some such. Not by itself though as the content may be too shallow to get an entire course of work out of pupils.

    One last thing however, if the bible can be taught in a school, then no one can complain about the subject content in any other lessons!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    We should remember that most of us studied Shakespeare at School, and his work wasn't written for academic purposes but to entertain. From my memory of 30 years ago it wasn't just the writing we studied, we also had to understand the context, how the characters inter reacted etc. You can just as easily do this with the Simpsons.
    Indeed the school may be asking their students to compare one medium with another.

  • Comment number 37.

    24. At 5:37pm on 20 Jul 2010, scarrott wrote:
    "Are people aware that this isn't part of an English course? It's part of a media studies course, and The Simpsons is arguably the cultural phenomenon of our time. I suspect the people who are criticising this have either never seen the show or simply didn't get it. It isn't Tom & Jerry. It is satirical, sharp and cutting. It looks at real issues in a humourous way and certainly lampoons the media.

    The show has won endless awards, from Emmys to Empire's greatest TV show of all time. It is in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running sitcom on TV."

    Hey, what's wrong with Tom and Jerry? They won seven Oscars between 1943 and 1952 and were nominated a further six times. Like The Simpsons, it wasn't aimed at kids either, more family audiences. But unlike The Simpsons, Tom and Jerry was far better animated and beautifully scored. (Don't get me wrong, though - I love The Simpsons, but for its writing and acting, not its animation, which is, to all intents and purposes, pretty rigid and cheaply done in comparison)

  • Comment number 38.

    Well it's 6pm and I for one am going to watch the show telly was made for!

  • Comment number 39.

    If I didn't know better I would say this is an episode from The Simpsons

  • Comment number 40.

    Did anyone of the people complaining about this read the story? only 1 episode is shown, and they do look at Shakespeare. Its a course about media, and the simpsons is media so why not use it in a course about media?
    It is also one of the longest running things ever on TV so it must be doing something right. I wouldn't be suprised if doctor who wasn't metioned as well.

  • Comment number 41.

    As today's secondary school children seem incapable of learning Latin grammar, or anything else that demands concentration, attention to detail and academic rigour, why not?
    Will the children be taking the Foundation or Higher Tier Simpsons GCSE?

  • Comment number 42.

    5. At 5:07pm on 20 Jul 2010, realleftist wrote:
    The Simpsons is a part of modern culture, and has every right to be included alongside Shakespeare, though it should not replace it.

    AND

    7. At 5:09pm on 20 Jul 2010, realleftist wrote:
    At 4:59pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:

    For pities sake, school is about preparing for a lifetime of work and perhaps to give an small insight into our culture and history.

    It certainly isn't about watching moronic american cartoons.

    No wonder we have so many unemployed if this is considered education. What next - PhDs in The Beano?
    ----

    Moronic? Have you ever actually watched it? The Simpsons is one of the best examples of contemporary satire.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Wow – realleftist. Comparing The Simpsons to Shakespeare really sums you up.

    One of the best examples of contemporary satire? Oh dear!

    When you’ve grown up you might like to tell me how teaching this trash in school is actually going to benefit society or assist anyone in their life or career.

    And please don’t tell me that media studies (watching cartoons) is a genuine subject. Just look at the hordes of people with Media Studies degrees queued at the Job Centre. Roll your sleeves up and contribute something to society!

  • Comment number 43.

    Oi dun wannum teachin moi zun bout foire neither Oi dun hold wiv it

  • Comment number 44.

    There are 7 elected parents on the governing body of Kingsmead Community School, 4 community representatives, 4 local authority members, 1 staff, 1 support staff, 1 teacher, and the head teacher.

    There are nearly 800 pupils.

    More than 50% of this number, more than 400, have mounted a petition to stop teaching the cartoon series The Simpsons in a media course.

    There are NO reports of the remaining parents petitioning for continued use of the Simpsons, hence currently over 400 parents believe they are right and the school govenor board is wrong.

    Now, this is NOT just about watching a cartoon, its MAIN and CENTRAL purpose is for children to learn various aspects of the WRITTEN text, which incidently is actually highly complex in its various parts, probably moreso than the Sun or Daily Mail.

    This is basically about teaching children an important part of their education.

    Yes it could probably be done with other boring things, but this is a way in which children gain ALL the BENEFITS, PLUS actually get some enjoyment out of their learning.

    This school has a good achievement record and above average in many instances, check out its Ofsted report.

    Hence in my view, even 400 parents CAN BE WRONG.

    Hence, FURTHER, in my opinion, allowing a bunch of unskilled,UNQUALIFIED, NO EXPERIENCE biased/self centred parents to set up Tory "FREE schools" is basically a recipe for EDUCATIONAL DESTRUCTION!

  • Comment number 45.

    What's the problem?
    Media course
    The Simpsons is media.
    Looking at its longevity it is an important part of any media course. Not many programmes last so long.

  • Comment number 46.

    Maybe instead they could have watched/learned about media/social aspects of Spitting Image and also learn a bit of history of the 1980s.

  • Comment number 47.

    As for all the detractors of "media" courses.
    Who do you think runs this web site, produces all the exellent TV programs on UK TV (and the rubbish unfortunately)?
    Who earns billions for this country?
    Media students.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well if it's part of a media module then I fail to see the problem. It strikes me we have a number of parents who have become hysterical about nothing or perhaps missed the part about it being for a media module.

  • Comment number 49.

    ...I'm even annoyed that I've stooped so low as defending this. On a website. Run by our best Media institution. Why didn't Shakespeare warn me about this!

  • Comment number 50.


    There appears to be genuine confusion that the Simpson is taught on a media course and not an English or literature course.
    The confusion may stem from the fact that media courses in schools are relatively new and many parents may not have had this opportunity themselves when they went to school. They also may fear literature becomes optional when it is not.

    I learned this when my son wanted to go into film studies and he had to educate me as to the difference between a media and film studies curriculum. Even later, following the trail to universities, it became clear each of these preparatory subjects is specific and required for interviews onto the higher education degree programmes.

    Clearly English and literature are absolutely essential for all. Yet when considering the objectives of a media course, the Simpsons are clearly relevant. The series is a very intelligent satire, a parody of the working-class American lifestyle that jokes and laughs at culture, society, and many shared issues of our human condition in order to see it more clearly. that is why it has raised interest all over the world. The study of the Simpson encourages critical and creative thinking skills essential for appreciating one of the largest and most influential growth industries ever. Media is a huge part of all our lives and is determining our culture for better or worse. I believe the head of the school has made a wise decision to keep the Simpsons on board.

  • Comment number 51.

    If these out of date backwater old fogies had ever actually watched the Simpsons they would have realised it is a damn sight cleverer than they are. As a medium for delivering messages it is incredibly well written, very moralistic (perhaps this doesn't go down well in the West Country) and raises and deals with some very sophisticated and complex issues.
    For anyone studying modern media the Simpsons is an absolute must.
    The problem is these parents obviously have no understanding of what media is, or what media studies is about. Perhaps THEY need to be educated, before insisting that all their children should learn about is Shakespeare plays like A Midsummer Nights' Dream.

  • Comment number 52.

    45. At 6:05pm on 20 Jul 2010, paddinton53 wrote:
    What's the problem?
    Media course
    The Simpsons is media.

    ------------------------------------

    Yep! And The Sunday Sport, Big Brother, The Dandy and the leaflets advertising pizza that drop through my door are all media.

    Why don't we do courses in them and forget numeracy and English grammar?

  • Comment number 53.

    16. At 5:25pm on 20 Jul 2010, Toad In The Hole wrote:

    "
    4. At 5:05pm on 20 Jul 2010, What_to_do wrote:

    I view the Simpsons as Adult comedy, not for children.
    "

    Why is it on in afternoon then?

    ------

    Please note I said that "I" view it as Adult comedy, not that everyone does.

  • Comment number 54.

    That anyone would consider petitioning against what must be among the most sensible and laudable additions to their child's curriculum is depressing.

    The Simpsons has much to teach people of all ages; but some people still seem to think that if something's fun it isn't educational.

  • Comment number 55.

    Ignorant, empowered, meddling parents thinking they know best. Heaven help education under the Tories.

  • Comment number 56.

    "spider pig spider pig does whatever a spider pig does"

    a literary classic

  • Comment number 57.

    What's sad is that so many people don't understand why the Simpsons is actually excellent material to be studied - and have so little trust in our education system. What's more, if they care so much about teaching only the classics to their kids, why not do that as well? If Joseph Reynolds wants to do his daughter a real service, he should take her to Shakespeare plays in the evenings and at weekends, or read them with her at home. Does he do that? If he does, then that's excellent, and his daughter will be getting the kind of balanced and mixed education that children really need. If he doesn't, and either spends too much time at work or would rather spend his time complaining and organising petitions than complementing what his daughter's school provides, then......

  • Comment number 58.

    The simpsons is fine. Education is dumbed down enough already so this wont hurt. Leisure and tourism anyone!? Haha

  • Comment number 59.

    To put it bluntly, the parents are wrong.

    The Simpsons is a modern phenomena. It's perfect material for teaching children a whole manner of things, from story to characters to denotation to the craft of animation itself.

    The Simpsons is a family show, it's comedy is expertly layered hence why adults enjoy it too.

    If a piece of material is engaging then that is the most important thing to establish. Many of the things I had to study at school were completely drab and quite frankly boring. If your children aren't engaged then they won't learn anything.

  • Comment number 60.

    Typical tabloid response from those parents. Gordon Brown would have called them bigoted.

    The school is not 'teaching' The Simpsons as if it was some sort of creed. The school is using the series as a vehicle for understanding how the media can be used for social commentary. The Simpsons represents high quality writing and story telling that has a lot to say about the human condition and US culture in particular. Mmmm perhaps that is what the parents don't like.

    Ignore those parents and stick to your principles. Well done school governors!

  • Comment number 61.

    For the benefit of a 55 year old can someone explain what a “media course” is?

  • Comment number 62.

    If the detractors actually listened to what was being said in The Simpsons, they might realise it is quite cleverly written - but perhaps the reason they cannot grasp this is due to them not being quite as clever as they would like to believe they are?

    Anyway, what's the fuss - kids are taught falsified history - e.g. that the attack on Pearl Harbour was a complete surprise.

  • Comment number 63.

    All a bit silly isn't it! It's a media studies course and therefore you study "media texts" and as media texts go The Simpsons is a pretty definitive one by any test you happen to come up with. The fact that the complainer is comparing it Shakespeare just shows the limits of their own understanding I'm afraid. Oh and I'm pretty sure that the classes will be being taught how to analyse The Simpsons from a media perspective - they are not being "taught" The Simpsons.

    Only one for Daily Mail readers to get worked up about.

  • Comment number 64.

    Gawds truth!
    Another brain numbing subject by the powers at HYS.
    Please stop dumbing down this site and ask your posters to comment on subjects that are important!!!
    What next. Can the Teletubbies be role models for our young!

  • Comment number 65.

    This is typical of an education system that is set up to make delivery of education easier to suit poor quality teachers.

    The level of education we deliver to our children matches the expectations we have for them in the future.

    If we wish our children to learn about the simpsons at school then dont be surprised when they want to study Media studies/outdoor education or david beckham studies at degree.

    We should also not complain when they leave university/education and become a shelf stacker at tescos or cook at macdonalds.

    If we want our children to be employable and educated to a good standard we must challenge them from the onset, and stop employing sub standard teachers who can only deliver simpsons as a mechanism of language.



  • Comment number 66.

    You can study it at university so why not at school?

  • Comment number 67.

    41. At 6:02pm on 20 Jul 2010, Philip wrote:
    As today's secondary school children seem incapable of learning Latin grammar, or anything else that demands concentration, attention to detail and academic rigour, why not?
    Will the children be taking the Foundation or Higher Tier Simpsons GCSE?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Of course, all who went to school in the fifties are shining examples of humanity and culture, well versed in the subtle peculiarities of Latin and the nuances of Shakespeare's plays. Sir Alan Sugar didn't get where he is today without knowing his Veni from his Vici! And where would Richard Branson be if he couldn't recite Twelfth Night by heart?

    The usual nonsense about the coming apocalypse it seems. Every year it's the same - education gone down the drain, useless kids not able to add up or spell correctly. Never mind the facts when they can rob you of your indignant outrage, eh?

    How can you study media without studying The Simpsons? It's a cultural phenomenon, hailed by critics as one of TVs greatest gifts. As ever with a certain type of person, if they don't like it, the only reason can be that they're too intelligent!

    I ask, where is the evidence that education has been dumbed down? As ever, just a case of the older generation feeling threatened by the more dynamic youth...

  • Comment number 68.

    People underestimate the inherent skill, perceptiveness and intelligence involved in making people laugh, something which The Simpsons has been able to do consistently for hundreds of episodes.

    The examples of media used to teach the subject in schools should be chosen on the basis of their reflectiveness of our media culture as opposed to subjective views on whether they constitute high art or literature.



  • Comment number 69.

    Oh my! Possibly the most iconic TV show of the last 20 years is being "studied" on a media course, what a surprise!

    It would be nice if a little bit of investigation were done as to the content of the course, by the BBC, or even the parents, as unless they are teaching "lets all be little Bart's" then I can't see the harm as part of a MEDIA course, of course instead all we've had is tabloid style journalism with a headline and a story around the headline that doesn't really tell us anything.

    A much more pertinant question would be

    Should schools be teaching media courses?

    I'm pretty sure what the view of 90% of the population is, yet our fantastic govenment that has spent years talking about the sliding standards would rather spend money to let some random parents who don't like their local school start a new one than sort out the fundemental issues of education - the curriculam!

    It would cost nothing to scrap media courses, yet would send a decent message on standards, and also free up valuable places at uni for science students or it could be a easy cut, it's sensible though so fat chance of any action!

  • Comment number 70.

    It's a media studies course.

    The content is not necessarily important, it is the delivery that is important, and what is being taught.

    I studied Ghost in the Shell. I'd have much rathered the simpsons, it makes quite poignant points about modern society and unspoken habits of western culture.
    e.g. I am always reminded of the episode where Apu is discovered to be an illegal immigrant. That whole episode speaks volumes to me about the whole intolerance of society, especially Moe Syzlak's comment on "Even when it was the bears, I knew it was the immigants."

  • Comment number 71.

    with something like this the simpsons are a very good way of teaching children, at my school we have used it to teach about obesity and religion, mostly about there portrayals in modern society and media. what's more the simpsons are entertaining, if something is entertaining then the students will be engaged, well behaved and scores will be higher in the whole class, I know from my past, present and future expieriences.
    the only objection to this can be the "bow and arrow guard" a philosophy that was invented by Jackie Fisher, the designeer of the famous dreadnoughts, to describe the admirals who decided to put sails on the other wise extremely modern HMS Inflexible in 1876, in the modern world it is someone who is out of touch with modern life, cannout accept the future of education lies in incentives like this

  • Comment number 72.

    I have used the Simpson's teaching English to French children and have found they work for many age groups and subjects(colours/clothing/family realtionships/jobs). The pupils are familiar with the Simpsons so can be encouraged to put forward simple sentences with the vocab that they know:'Bart has two sisters' or 'Marge has blue hair'.

    Using the Simpsons is a vehicle to enable the children to get started forming their own phrases.

  • Comment number 73.

    52. At 6:20pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:
    Why don't we do courses in them and forget numeracy and English grammar?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Or we could teach both and join the 21st century.

  • Comment number 74.

    I basically agree with markthinks. I was never a Simpsons fan but grow to like it and the writting tallent of the team that produce it. It is a modern Gilbert and Sutherland. It takes issues and opens them up for us all to see and think about. Part of a media study course if would be a good topic to include.

  • Comment number 75.

    I believe the Simpsons to be one of the most neurologically-awake programmes screened on TV, yes - study it!

  • Comment number 76.

    52. At 6:20pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:
    Yep! And The Sunday Sport, Big Brother, The Dandy and the leaflets advertising pizza that drop through my door are all media.

    Why don't we do courses in them and forget numeracy and English grammar?
    -----------------------------------

    They do, but it's boring and doesn't make headlines.
    Media Studies isn't for the feint of heart, you have to critique and analyse everything. In the class I was in, we reviewed/analysed everything, 2 minutes at a time. Gore/Horror movies, to tabloid newspapers (Yes, The Sport and The Sun were used, complete with Page 3). It wasn't considered explicit, and it was studied objectively.

    The 15yr olds from my class were more mature than the "adults" who protest something without even understanding the basic facts involved.

  • Comment number 77.

    It might be because I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think that using the Simpsons for school teaching is a good idea. Then again, when I was growing up, I probably learned more by watching the Simpsons than I did by going to school.

  • Comment number 78.

    Having attended this school and studied this exact syllabus about six or seven years ago, I feel I should have my say.
    Given that the course has been taught for this long, it certainly isn't some newly thought-up, dumbed-down alteration to the syllabus in a bid to make English 'cool' - it has probably been taught at the school for over ten years, and includes detailed analysis of the way the programme creates humour both linguistically and visually. I'm sure many will agree that the humour used in The Simpsons is actually rather sophisticated in its structure.
    I gained an 'A' in English Language A-Level, with two of my coursework pieces focusing on humour, and am now studying Modern Languages and TEFL at Birmingham University, and the TEFL modules include detailed study of the use of humour in the English Language.
    In my opinion, The Simpsons module of the Year 8 English curriculum provides a fun and stimulating grounding for the study of humour in English.

  • Comment number 79.

    Are the parents in this story seriously suggesting that something that is so prominent in our culture as the media, including the Simpsons, Jeremy Kyle and the Beano, is not worthy of serious and critical study. From the creation of radio demagogues and tyrants have seen its value in controlling and manipulating their populations. Examples, alas, abound - from Hitler and Stalin through to Rwanda. It is surely vital for a democracy that serious study should be given to the techniques used and that children should be taught how to evaluate the information they are bombarded with daily.

    I have always loved Shakespeare. It is noteworthy, however, that in his time he was not taken seriously by many of the elite - lacking as he did a full command of Greek and Latin. I can well imagine a petition protesting study of his work had universal education been available then.

    Education must look back at the past but it must also live in the present and prepare children for the future as it will be rather than how we would prefer it to be.

  • Comment number 80.

    42. At 6:03pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:
    5. At 5:07pm on 20 Jul 2010, realleftist wrote:
    The Simpsons is a part of modern culture, and has every right to be included alongside Shakespeare, though it should not replace it.

    AND

    7. At 5:09pm on 20 Jul 2010, realleftist wrote:
    At 4:59pm on 20 Jul 2010, chiptheduck wrote:

    For pities sake, school is about preparing for a lifetime of work and perhaps to give an small insight into our culture and history.

    It certainly isn't about watching moronic american cartoons.

    No wonder we have so many unemployed if this is considered education. What next - PhDs in The Beano?
    ----

    Moronic? Have you ever actually watched it? The Simpsons is one of the best examples of contemporary satire.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Wow – realleftist. Comparing The Simpsons to Shakespeare really sums you up.

    One of the best examples of contemporary satire? Oh dear!

    When you’ve grown up you might like to tell me how teaching this trash in school is actually going to benefit society or assist anyone in their life or career.

    And please don’t tell me that media studies (watching cartoons) is a genuine subject. Just look at the hordes of people with Media Studies degrees queued at the Job Centre. Roll your sleeves up and contribute something to society!

    -----------------------------------------------------

    So chiptheduck you don't like Media Studies or cartoons then, not intellectual enough for you are they? As for the 'hordes' of people with Media Studies degrees queued up at the Job Centre, how do you know who at the job centre has a degree in Media Studies? You must visit a Job Centre on a regular basis if you have observed these 'hordes' which begs the question what are you doing in a Job Centre if you are so vastly superior to these benefits claiming Media Studies graduates? Or are you just assuming that because Media Studies is popularly portrayed as a weak subject then there must be a large number of benefit claimants who possess Media Studies degrees and if you are this would mean your comment is just populist nonsense only partially reflected in reality and certainly not in the way that you describe it. Maybe when you grow up you might develop the ability to answer a question without resorting to reactionary sound bites and exaggerated drivel.

  • Comment number 81.

    For God's sake, people. Is it any wonder so many people are content to lap up everything they are told by idiotic, fear-mongering tabloids when this is the attitude you have towards Media Studies?

    The Simpsons is a fantastic example for studying various aspects of the media, first and foremost being satire. Media Studies is vital for anyone who wants to have any hope of being able to understand the way our mass media works, how it reinforces the status quo, how it is used for political or capital gain. The Simpsons, being both satire AND a programme which children will gladly watch, is an excellent programme to study.

    A prime example of parents thinking they know more than teachers, and being wrong, wrong, wrong. I hope the school governors do not force the teacher to change his curriculum.

  • Comment number 82.

    'The Simpsons' knows it's clever. It knows that a lot of people will dismiss it as a 'daft cartoon'. It makes those people look like idiots.

    If it wasn't animated, wasn't American and starred John Cleese, you'd all be falling over yourselves to heap praise on this decision. As for Shakespeare, aside from every toff's obligation to proclaim him as the greatest thing since sliced bread, his literature is not as relevant as it was FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO. Things change. 'The Simpsons' is the perfect example of MODERN satire.

    Indeed, the writers of the show might pick up on the irony of a bunch of non-qualified parents trying to tell teachers how to do their jobs, and then a horde of even less qualified people trying to tell us all that the finest comedy writing of the past 20 years is 'moronic'.

  • Comment number 83.

    Comment No 1 describes The Simpsons as a "moronic American cartoon". 2 out 3. It's not moronic - I've made a couple of highly intelligent well-educated people sit and watch a couple of episodes, after which they too have agreed that it is, on the whole, very clever.

    Lots of "irony, sarcasm and parody" for students to spot. And it really helps when they realise that it's not just dead Europeans in Literature classes who use "irony and parody".

    Suppose I were to oppose football lessons in schools because [1] it's a totally moronic game and [2] anyone who watches the news knows it only leads to violence amongst the supporters and immoral conduct amongst the overpaid players.

  • Comment number 84.

    as someone who has just left university after studying acting; i can actually see the point of using the simpsons as reference material. at first i was objusective, but thinking about it, the simpsons is a very culturally aware programme. it can more than definitely be used as a way of getting children interested in the deeper meaning of arts.

    for example, when i was about 12 yrs old, i saw an episode of the simpsons in which they did their own version of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. this affected me so much i started reading his poetry and stories.

    i do think its vital to explore a vast majority of media; yes have shakespeare ( a world without shakespeare would be awful!!) but obviously dont disregard it. keep simspons in.

    i also have to say that JUST teaching things like shakespeare is a nightmare to children, this also doesnt help with lack of funding to take shakespeare to school; shakespeare is meant to be performed, not read. if using the simpsons helps children grasp forms of media, then all the better.

    these parents are actually limiting their childrens knowledge, and personal and mental growth by trying to do this.

    expand knowlege and teaching, dont stifle it!!!

  • Comment number 85.

    'Won't somebody please think of the children'.

    If you describe 'The Simpsons' as 'just a cartoon' then your opinion is, quite frankly, irrelevant. The single most important television show ever, a show that has changed the English lexicon and, in its prime, the finest sitcom ever.

    It is a media studies unit so it is entirely appropriate to study 'The Simpsons' what with it being one of the few culturally important television shows. Secondly, these kids are what, 12 years old? What possible ills can come of students learning about the intricacies of satire, irony, subtext etc. etc. from something that they are familiar with and no doubt enjoy.

  • Comment number 86.

    The Simpsons is actually almost unbelievably relevant to current affairs. Through my whole time as a student, I honestly have rarely had a lesson that hasn't had some connection to an episode. I think it's an excellent idea to engage kids using something their interested in, and despite what some shallow-minded people might think something like The Simpsons is incredibly perceptive of modern culture and intelligently made.

  • Comment number 87.

    There appears to be genuine confusion that the Simpsons is being taught on a media course and not on English or literature course.

    The confusion may stem from the fact that media courses in schools are relatively new and many parents may not have had this opportunity themselves when they went to school. They also may fear literature becomes optional when it is not.

    Clearly English and literature are absolutely essential for all.

    Yet when considering the objectives of a media course, the Simpsons are clearly relevant. The series is a very intelligent satire, a parody of the working-class American lifestyle that jokes and laughs at culture, society, and many shared issues of our human condition in order to see it more clearly.

    The study of the Simpson encourages critical and creative thinking skills essential for appreciating one of the largest and most influential growth industries ever. Media is a huge part of all our lives and is determining or culture for better or worse.

    I believe the head of the school has made a wise decision to keep the Simpsons on board.

  • Comment number 88.

    The fact that this petition has been made shows that people are unable to appreciate the cultural significance of the programme. There can be no better argument in favour of including it in the syllabus. All material should be studied critically because otherwise it will not be understood, and it obviously has not been understood by those who signed the petition.

  • Comment number 89.

    This blog is dumbed down compared to the Simpsons.

    I love seeing grown ups earnestly state cretinous nonsense that a average teenager would laugh out of the room.

  • Comment number 90.

    "moronic American cartoon"? Presumably a description like this comes from somebody who clearly hasn't ever seen The Simpsons or does not understand it.

    It's one of the most clever things on TV (in the non documentary sense) and admittedly some of the writing may be too subtle for some.

    However, why are the parents complaining about the choice of cartoon in their child's media studies lesson? Surely it's pretty pointless to worry since they actually opted for media studies ;)

  • Comment number 91.

    I really love watching the Simpsons and lets face it it shows just how families can be simply dysfunctional...but I very much doubt that children should be taught this in school...its no wonder the fear is that we will end up with more dysfunctional people with topics like this as examples; what really needs to be taught are family values...families consisting of Mums and Dads and children...sadly we have many families where Dad or even Mum is missing...The Simpsons is not the prize example to teach children just what family values are...even though miracles do happen and Homer saves the family and the day over and over again...
    Re-think this out people...we don't need an increase in Dysfunctional Families...

  • Comment number 92.

    If you are running a media course, The Simpsons would seem to be a good topic to focus on.

    Of course, it's a moot point whether the media course should be running in the first place!

  • Comment number 93.

    If it helps the children understand how satire in the media plays a role in shaping peoples opinions then yes it may be useful, just as studying the impact that spitting image had on subsequent elections following the lampooning of politicians in the 80's.
    What i do not believe is happening is that the students sit around all day watching the simpsons and doing nothing else.

  • Comment number 94.

    He talks about exposing the children to language and yet they teach only three Shakespeare plays in 5 years ? Pitiful. One a term would be a better rate imo. Not that it specifically needs to be Shakespeare. There are so many wonderful playwrites and authors to choose from.

    They have clearly chosen the Simpsons to make the teaching less arduous. Typical, the class teacher I assisted did exactly that at every possible opportunity and it drove me nuts. If you don't challenge children they have nothing to rise to. It's lazy teaching. Mind you, the experience I had as a TA was enlightening. Many of the teachers were far less educated than I am........and I was only an assistant !

  • Comment number 95.

    Maybe the reason the BBC is allowing this to be such a big story (when the real story is actually about dumb parents who have no concept of what the real world is actually like in the 21st century) is because Simpsons is on Sky? Would the Beeb have made this such a big thing if they had been studying Mary, Mungo and Midge, or Hector's House?
    This story should really be passed over to the Daily Mail.
    Presumably these same parents think Geroge Orwell is moronic and rubbish compared to the classics. Or maybe, as someone mentioned earlier, that modern Gilbert & Sullivan rubbish - now that's not proper opera, is it?
    By the way for all the posters who are talking about the 400 petition signers - if you read the story carefully you will see he got 400 signatures "in the community" not amongst parents. How many of these were actually parents of children in the school (particularly since I doubt that half of all the students are taking the media studies course)?

  • Comment number 96.

    One of the strongest themes of The Simpsons is the value of engaging one's brain before forming an opinion. Those who jump to conclusions on subjects of which they are not qualified to speak are rightly ridiculed.

    I would suggest that those who do not see the educational value of art such as this—particularly within the scope of a media studies course—are probably lacking in a decent education themselves.

    To quote Stephen Fry from earlier today: "What kind of illiterate morons would object to their children being taught the Simpsons? One despairs..."

  • Comment number 97.

    Stop whining! It's a M-E-D-I-A course...what relevance does Shakepeare have to modern media? The Simpsons covers all aspects of modern life and provides a light hearted look into some very serious subjects.

    Get over yourselves and start worrying about something important

  • Comment number 98.

    It's an excellent idea to teach The Simpsons in this capacity, it's the smartest and wittiest show ever created, and for a number of years was far and away the greatest media entity on the planet.

    It's bitter grasp of irony and clever satire places it in a perfect position to be taught, as it's a truly intelligent show on every level. The writing is more worldly and entirely wholesome than most Shakespeare works, and certainly a lot more relevant and interesting.

  • Comment number 99.

    Studying 'The Simpsons' opening sequence in school is a completely valid and worthwhile activity. As a media text it engages with the key concepts of representation, audience and the language of moving image. Students are required to engage with ideas about the media's impact on our lives (see how the family gather round the TV at the end of a day's work), gender roles and attitudes, types of humour, the nuclear family, stereotypes, surrealism and more. A student writing well about this text will be required to use a quite specialist vocabulary and understand the complexities of how we respond as consumers of television. Moreover, it engages students instantly by taking something they have 'ownership' of and making them more perceptive, involved readers. Anyone who disagrees can eat my shorts.

  • Comment number 100.

    And if more of you at home had taken a media course, you would be less likely to *buy* a tabloid-sized newspaper that gives you partial truths.

    The British tablods are fit for one activity only. Wiping your ...

 

Page 1 of 5

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.