The Magic of Hands-on Learning [OWLS July Blog Tour: Mentor]

Life is a journey (which is OWLS’s August topic!), and sometimes, we need a little guidance along the way. We turn to teachers, parents, mentors, and other educators to learn what we need for our own individual journeys at every stage of our lives. We can have these figures in our lives when we are children, as we plunge into adulthood, and even when we’re walking into our elder years, and they might mentor us for any aspect of our lives. Not every mentor is spectacular, but sometimes we come across one that is out of this world. Today, I’m writing about an out-of-this-world teacher from pop culture who never fails the kids she’s in charge of educating: Ms. Frizzle of The Magic School Bus.


Welcome to July’s OWLS Blog Tour

Every month, I join the voices of the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect (OWLS) blogging project. The OWLS bloggers and vloggers use anime and other pop culture works to discuss a central theme promoting diversity, respect, self-acceptance, and equality. I feel proud to work with the OWLS team, so keep an eye out for future posts exploring important social issues. If you’re interested in these topics, be sure to check out the other OWLS blogs for each tour, or consider becoming an OWLS blogger or vlogger yourself!


This month, we’re talking about mentors” in pop culture. Here’s our prompt:

Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.

Let’s Take a Field Trip!

The Magic School Bus is a children’s show that ran from 1994-1997, with a series reboot from 2017 to present. The series follows the elementary school class of Ms. Frizzle, a charming woman with a sunny disposition and an appetite for adventure. One of the major plot points of the show is Ms. Frizzle’s sentient magic school bus (which I can only assume is named Bus) which can transform into nearly anything and magically transport The Frizz and her class to anywhere they want to enhance their classroom experience. Their field trips take them inside the human body, to the moon, down anthills, and even under the ocean. Every adventure focuses on educational topics that children in elementary school usually study.

Now, Ms. Frizzle does have some advantage over other teachers in being one of the best teachers in pop culture. It’s hard to beat a magic bus that can take her students anywhere in the universe for hands-on experience. However, I didn’t pick her because of her amazing magic (whether or not she’s a Time Lord also didn’t figure into this decision). In truth, even without Bus, Ms. Frizzle is an incredible educator because of the ways that she guides her students and encourages them to learn things for themselves.

Get Out There and Explore

Nearly every episode starts out in the classroom with Ms. Frizzle and her students conducting a normal class session. That is, until one of the students asks a question about whatever they’re studying. Questions seem to be one of the major triggers for Ms. Frizzle’s epic field trips. Instead of simply telling her students the answers to their questions, she summons Bus and brings them all somewhere that they can get hands-on experience to learn their own answers. Throughout the journey, she does help guide their thinking or answer smaller questions, but she really lets her students lead their own answer-finding.

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Students learn best when they can have hands-on experience to solve the problems to questions they have, or at least when they have to problem-solve to find the answer if hands-on experience isn’t available. It’s a major teacher best-practice to provide students with resources to find the answers to their questions instead of answering them yourself. The Frizz does a great job of adhering to this best-practice in all of their adventures, which empowers her students to take ownership of their own learning and reenforces critical problem solving skills.

Ms. Frizzle has a few catchphrases throughout the series that reenforce her dedication to empowering her students as well. One is “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” a catchphrase that reminds her students that learning does involve making mistakes and maybe even failing a few times before you really learn something. She’ll also tell her kids to “get out there and explore,” or reenforce their learning by praising their “dynamic deduction” or “excellent observation.”



As a teacher, Ms. Frizzle is a more traditional mentor, but as I mentioned earlier, there are all kinds of other types of mentors. Be sure to check out HeyitsZel’s post over on Archi-Anime, who’s discussing sports mentorship in Ace of Diamond. Up next, keep an eye out for Mistress of Yaoi of Yaoi Playground, who’s talking about Yuri!!! On Ice.

Do you have any favorite pop culture mentors or teachers? Share them in the comments! You can also connect on Twitter at @Popliterary, or send a message on the “contact” page.

And as always, if you have a literary device or grammar rule you want to know more about, or a game, comic, show, or movie that you want to see make an appearance on the blog, leave a shout-out in the comments!

4 thoughts on “The Magic of Hands-on Learning [OWLS July Blog Tour: Mentor]

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