We begin with a discussion about the economic incentives for becoming a public school teacher versus being Barry Bonds. Minkus shows his math skills and understanding of education reform needs, while our boy wonder heroes Cory and Shawn show their love of baseball and lack of love towards Feeny. Ahhh… it’s good to be back, good reader! Welcome to another fun edition of Feeny Friday!
Episode: Teacher’s Bet, originally aired November 19, 1993
Episode Summary: Feeny makes a bet with Cory to teach his class for a week – if more students pass Cory wins, and if more students fail, Feeny wins.
As always, if you want to follow along, here’s the full episode:
We pick up our cafeteria conversation with Cory going on his soapbox about how spelling, history, and math don’t change, so neither does teaching sixth grade, and therefore Feeny’s job never changes!
Cory accurately predicts what Feeny will do (walk in, water fountain, flick mustache, ask Cory question). BUT, in true Feeny fashion, he completes Cory’s sentence with him, remarking at how predictable Cory is.
We return to Feeny in class discussing prejudice in social studies – black slavery in American south, jews in Nazi Germany, and other examples. He assigns the first 30 pages of Anne Frank.
Feeny: I note an escalating tendency for you to make humorous comments about the things I’m teaching, Mr. Matthews. You are making my job very difficult.
Cory: Well we both know it’s not very hard to teach sixth grade, so I always thought you secretly liked I made it a little more challenging.
Feeny: Oh so that’s it. My job is easy?
Cory: Ya know, same stuff every year. The only thing that changes is the students.
Feeny: Ya know, I always thought you had the easy job, just sitting in here listening.
Cory: Are you kidding? 35 hours a week in here with you? Major homework every night? It never stops, Mr. Feeny. And you know what I get for that? 5 measly bucks a week. You probably make that in a week.
Feeny: Yes I do. That’s why I can afford that Ferrari in the driveway.
Cory: You don’t drive a Ferrari.
Feeny: Ah, that’s right. I drive a Gremlin. In any event, perhaps I have been underestimating the difficulty of your job as a sixth grader.
Cory: Perhaps you have, Mr. Feeny.
Feeny: I could give you a chance to prove your theory.
Cory: What do you mean?
Feeny: I mean, why don’t we trade jobs for the rest of the week?
Cory: Because you wouldn’t do that.
Feeny: Oh yes I would. You may teach one of my classes until Friday, at which point you will administer a test I have prepared.
Cory: Will I have to take it?
Feeny: You’ll be the teacher, Mr. Matthews. You have the easy job. Giving the test. AND if more students than normal pass, you win. And if more students fail, I win.
Cory: So while I’m doing your job, what’ll you do?
Feeny: Since you’ll be sitting in my seat, I think it’s only fair that I’ll be sitting in yours.
Cory: Like, you’ll be my student?
Feeny: Like, yeah.
Feeny: Would you enjoy that?
Cory: Yeah, that’d be okay. And you’d be taking the test right?
Cory: Okay. Deal. Just like you said, no take backs.
Feeny: No take backs. But why don’t we make this experiment more interesting?
Back at the Matthews household, we meet Eric’s new hottie (played this time by future TV star Lindsay Price) and Cory expresses to his parents his new deal with Feeny, where he says the book does all the teaching and compares Feeny to Vanna White. Cory reveals that he put up his bike in the bet versus 1/5 of his weekly paycheck. Cory feels that, come Friday, he’ll be rich.
Alan: Why does Feeny want that big?
Amy: Obviously this is one of those Mr. Feeny lesson things!
Ahhh… she gets it. She’s been following along.
Back at school, Cory checks with Feeny to make sure that it is completely his class. Cory begins teaching. Minkus begins to freak out. Cory lets the class know that they should address him as “Hey Dude!” He also changes the “No baseball caps in class” rule. Topanga then wants to know if they can disregard the dress code in its entirety. Cory asks why and if she’s planning on showing up naked tomorrow.
SEXUAL TENSION FORESHADOWING ALERT. GOTTA LOVE IT. We continue with “Hey Dude” teaching social studies…
Minkus and Cory clash. Cory assigns the same homework assignment from the night before. Back at home at the kitchen room table (which is what makes America great… middle class families discussing life issues at the kitchen table). Alan explains to Cory how grading on a curve and Feeny scoring high ruining it hurts Cory’s chances at meeting his goal and winning the bet.
Back in school the next day, Shawn doesn’t want to help Cory get the class back under control, Topanga wants to sit on a yoga cushion, and Minkus has “gotten a life” by being “fun” and bouncing on a bouncy ball in class.
Chaos is breaking out in the class. Topanga is making dinosaur sounds. Cory realizes that Feeny isn’t there. Feeny comes walking in decked out in oversized Phillies gear.
Feeny: Hey dude! Sorry I’m late. I was chillin’ with my homies. I’m in (joins card game with Shawn)
Cory gets told off by Minkus and disrespected. He has no choice but to go sit down while Feeny is just another one of the homies (Any online meme creators… feel free to create one of Feeny talking about homies. Internet gold, people. Gold.)
Back at home, Cory is reading Anne Frank and discusses with his dad how hard teaching actually is and how no one will listen to him. Alan explains the distinction between being a pal and being a teacher and the need for teachers to set themselves apart (foreshadowing to many Feeny moments in Cory’s future, including the final scene of the series)
Eric and Linda return home. Linda is crying because someone at the mall called her a derogatory name. Cory’s in awe that this could happen at their mall, in the present day.
For those of you keeping score at home, this would be a key moment in this boy meeting the world.
Cory shows up the next day in a suit. Cory appeals to Minkus to pay attention so that maybe the other students will too. Minkus asks why he would help him when he was so disrespectful to Feeny. (More meeting the world going on… all around us this episode!)
Feeny walks in with a Meat Loaf tee-shirt on. Anthropologists and sociologists will debate for all of history which Feeny “cool thing” was in fact the coolest. But we digress. Feeny speaks about how not cool Cory’s outfit is.
Then the show gets good. So good, that sometimes on Boy Meets World, there are those moments when a transcript and commentary doesn’t do it justice. You’re probably reading this because you like Boy Meets World. You watched it when you were young. You laughed at the characters. You learned, to an extent, about love, romance, life, heartbreak, right, and wrong from this show. In this episode, we get this scene in which Cory gets it. He faces the brutal realities of a world that require more than the box scores and comics in the paper. It’s bigger than himself as a middle schooler. Education sticks. Feeny, once again, gets through. Check it out:
Cory: When someone calls someone else a bad name, it’s not good that just that one person jumps up. We all have to jump up.
Later, Feeny is back in his usual outfit and position as teacher. Cory’s a student, standing at his desk.
Cory: So, what’s the verdict? Am I riding the bus to school from now on?
Feeny: No. The same number of students passed the test as usual. It’s a draw. You get to keep your bike.
Cory: Good. You mean some people still failed?
Feeny: It happens, no matter how good a teacher you are.
Cory: Sorry to hear that. I guess I didn’t do such a good job.
Feeny: On the contrary, Mr. Matthews. You did an excellent job. Mr. Hunter, for instance, got a full grade higher than he usually does. Somehow, you must have gotten his attention?
Cory: Shawn got a B? At least one guy learned something from me this week.
Cory: Two? Who else?
Feeny: You, Mr. Matthews
Cory: But how do you know? I didn’t even take the test.
Feeny: You didn’t have to. Do you really think that I could have gotten you to read The Diary of Anne Frank?
Cory: Even if you did, Mr. Feeny, I still wouldn’t have been able to understand it without you. People just don’t understand that about us teachers.
Feeny: That’s alright, Mr. Matthews. In time, one learns to live with he lack of respect, unruly students, minuscule pay.
And thus ends our tale for this week, although not before Linda becomes cheerleader, Eric gets giddy, and it’s revealed the high school does the same cheers from when Amy was a cheerleader.
So what did we learn this week?
1) Feeny hangs with homies, just like the rest of us.
2) Bullying and name calling is bad, and everyone should not only NOT do it, but also stand up for the victims. It’s that simple.
3) Feeny likes the Phillies and Meat Loaf… OR he just thought that’s what was “cool” in 1993? The world may never know…
4) Eric seems to be well on his way to being a serial monogamist… although can you blame him? His track record of future TV stars seems to be quite successful thus far. “Good Luck Eric”?!?
5) Feeny’s ability to get through to his students, hold high expectations, use unorthodox teaching methods, and get his students to be wiser people knows no bounds. Even looking back on iconic episodes like this one, it’s still impressive at how simple and moral this show was. They don’t make ’em like Feeny anymore, and it’s unfortunate… because the boys meeting the world out there today are worse off for it.