Feeny: A name derived from the Latin word for televised education. Arguably the most prolific fictional character of the 90's. He taught his class so much but he taught the viewers at home even more. Every day, it’s important to take a deep breath and imagine about how messed up your life might be if you didn’t have Mr. Feeny in your 90's TV regimen. Don’t think about it too long, it’s not a pretty hypothetical picture.
While technically not a teacher, Mr. Belding imparted a lot of wisdom on the students of Bayside High. Like how to install a CD player in his wife’s new Miata (that one didn’t go so well) or how to clip a bonsai tree (possibly the only skill more useless than having a masters degree). Wait, didn’t Zack deliver Mrs. Belding’s baby in an elevator? Kind of surprising that didn’t come up more often. “I brought your firstborn child into this earth. Also, I know what your wife’s vagina looks like,” seems like a quick way to get out of detention.
You know who else was a principal? Mr. Feeny. In season two, the gang moved up to high school where Mr. Feeny was the new principal. Wow! Cory, Shawn, Topanga and Eric were so lucky to have a shepherd like Feeny watching over their high school years. Unlike Zack and Belding’s special relationship, Corey never helped Mrs. Feeny give birth. Probably because she was dead before the series started according to the standalone Boy Meets World wikia site (separate and more comprehensive than the BMW Wikipedia page) that I read every day like it’s the NY Times.
Mr. Cooper was more than a teacher: he was a substitute teacher. Actually, I think that makes him a little less than a teacher. But Mr. Cooper wasn’t just a substitute. He was a substitute with a dream. A dream to one day leave these stupid kids behind and go play professional basketball. I like that. A good public educator should have one foot out the door and eyes on a distant prize as an example for students: don’t peak in this place and get out as soon as you can. Mr. Cooper was also a great teacher off the court when he was at home.
Mr. Feeny at Home
You know who else was a great teacher at home? Mr. Feeny. It’s important to make the distinction between Mr. Feeny in the classroom and Mr. Feeny at home. They were the same guy, but two different teachers. Mr. Feeny in the classroom taught lessons about geography and was paid to be there. Mr. Feeny at home taught lessons about life and did it out of the kindness of his heart. He also probably did it because he was bored and didn't have cable. I mean, shit, that’s why I was watching ‘Boy Meets World’ on ABC. As a bonus, Mr. Feeny was able to teach lessons to Cory and Eric’s parents whenever they got into a jam. The guy was just a non-stop knowledge machine with no minimum or maximum age requirement for his pupils. Side note: People really seemed to love going to next door for advice on 90's television. I guess we were all doing lots of weird stuff before Google.
Will Smith’s Music Teacher
Will was blowing it in his music class (I guess they didn’t give extra credit for wearing your jacket inside out, making it look dope as hell) and had to join the 3rd grade class in order to graduate. You know, totally normal part of high school that we all went through. Part of completing that class was dressing up in the sunflower costume on the left and performing at a recital. Thank you, nameless music teacher. You gave us one of the best episodes of ‘Fresh Prince’ which is really saying something. And you didn’t just make us laugh; at the core of this episode was a valuable message about graduation and the importance of college.
Mr. Feeny: The College Years
You know who else knew that college is important? Mr. Feeny. Feeny the college teacher was more mature and dedicated than season one classroom Feeny or season two through five principal Feeny. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t it weird that Feeny followed them to college? Well, it would be weird. But that’s not what happened. Cory buckled under the pressure of his new life and fled to Wyoming to seek guidance from a retired Feeny. He even tried to join him in retirement. Mr. Feeny, both annoyed and realizing this was not the right course of action for Mr. Matthews, dragged Cory back to college. At first he tried to join Cory as a student (sure, why not) but soon realized his only appropriate role, both in a place of learning and Cory’s life, was as a teacher. So basically he sacrificed retirement just to keep doling out valuable life lessons to these kids. What a guy! There should be a statue of him in every academic institution.
Mr. Feeny at the Coffee Shop
Just like Mr. Feeny at home was different than Mr. Feeny at school, college coffee shop Feeny was a separate beacon of enlightenment from college professor Feeny. He had a hip new set of casual lesson plans that could only be taught over large cups of joe and massive fruit-filled muffins. The only time Shawn, Cory, Eric and Topanga didn’t have Feeny in front of them was when they were asleep. And that’s debatable since dude was around so much, it only stands to reason that he’d pop up in their subconscious. I’ve never had a Mr. Feeny dream, but I imagine it’s a lot like listening to a book on tape. You just kind of relax, enjoy the ride and then assume you’ve learned something on the other end.
I guess he gets an honorable nod for teaching the kids some stuff and letting Shawn move in with him for a while or whatever, but let’s face it. This guy was just a poor man’s Feeny with an earing and a motorcycle.