The A&E channel has recently premiered their new series, Teach: Tonya Danza. One cannot be too sure if A&E is implying that America’s educational system needs to “teach” Tony Danza, or if America would like to watch A&E support Tonya Danza as he slowly fails with pedagogical techniques, tries to host a daily reality series that showcases an urban high school, gets outsmarted by sophomores and all in the meantime struggles to inspire other average guys named Tony out there can be a teacher too.
The series focuses around Tonya Danza, who claims that he wanted to go to school to initially be a teacher where he received his degree in History Education, but he then got roped into becoming a boxer and shortly afterwards, had a career in films and television, notably his roles on Taxi and Who’s The Boss. Well, there is no Angela or Mona on this series, but Tonya does frequently get his butt handed to him by other women who further cement the idea of “why would anyone want to be a teacher?”
The series doesn’t really mention how much “formal educational training” Tony Danza has received, let alone how competent and qualified one needs to be to work in Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, but the school’s secretary has no problem reminding Tony about his recent new-hire orientation. This woman calls Tony down to the Principal’s office on day one and rips him a new one, just because he didn’t sign in that morning. He is also heavily questioned by the school’s Principal, who reminds him, that she doesn’t care about the show’s ratings, and if it comes to a point where the students are not learning, and then everything will be over.
Now, as a teacher myself, my new hire orientation was only about a few days long. There was a lot of information that they covered as far as working with students, the rules of the county and the daily procedures and duties of the teacher. There probably wasn’t much teacher training being done at this orientation, so it seems that Tony Danza is coming into his English classroom of twenty-six sophomores and teaching them with the education he received around thirty years ago.
Although, I must admit it was very admirable for Tony to tell his Principal during his interview, that one of the reasons that he wanted to do this show, was to hopefully inspire other baby boomers out there to possibly have a change in careers or to get young adults to go out and get trained to become teachers. But I have no idea why any sensible person would become inspired by this show and want to share the experiences that Tony does during his first few days alone.
Tony Danza is a joke to several of his students, one of them even asks, “do you think someone thought it would be funny for you to teach an English class?” It is even worse when Tony is later corrected by a student over a literary device in his own class. He struggles to make the connections with his students and suffers the instant down fall of becoming the student’s friend and not the teacher. As far as his peers go, Tony has been hired as an assistant football coach, but is criticized for just talking and talking and talking, so that it has come to a point that the other teachers and staff look at him as a joke as well.
And who would take Tony Danza seriously, especially after fighting with an Orangutan in Cannonball Run II? I estimate that it will only be a short matter of time before he becomes the official armpit stain of NEHS and America’s educational system. But overall, I think teachers may appreciate having their career’s struggles, drama, devotion and energies shared with the rest of the world in a reality series, but they may also find Tony Danza hilarious and sad at the same time. Especially when he breaks down in frustration or cries after a long day. And if there is anyone out there interested in the profession of teaching, it is one of the toughest jobs around, so don’t let his problems intimidate you from going off to school and earning a formal collegiate level teaching degree. What Danza fails to realize his true guiding reason for becoming a teacher is to inspire, motivate, guide and nurture the future minds of the twenty-first century, not hoping that A&E will boost his career like they did for Corey Haim.
Northeast High School (official school web page) – http://nehs.phila.k12.pa.us/new/index-spry.php#
Teach: Tony Danza (official A&E web page) – http://www.aetv.com/teach-tony-danza/
Daily Danza: The Official Tony Danza website: http://www.dailydanza.com/