Why ‘The Simpsons’?

The majority of videos that I use in class come from The Simpsons. Students used to ask me why I did not use a more “realistic” show like Friends or Seinfeld instead. Now before I show the first Simpsons clip, I take a moment to explain.

There are three reasons that I use The Simpsons as videos in class:

  1. They are available to me. Media law in the U.S. says that if you own a DVD, as an educator you may save the content in one other format in order to share with students. I own the first 8 seasons of the Simpsons so it is legal for me to copy them to a computer format to share in class. With over 20 years of episodes there is a lot of material to select.
  2. They are generally familiar to students. Students usually know the characters so there is less background information that I am required to provide to introduce each clip.
  3. The animation means that the show is usually “over the top.” In other words, when characters mess up, they mess up in a big way and that makes it easier to see and learn from their errors.

I do worry that one day “The Simpsons” will be completely out of date and every year I find fewer students who are able to fill in “how does this episode end?” questions. However, I still get good reception from students on the whole. I’ve had older students who said before class they avoided the show because it was “trashy” but really enjoyed the clips. That being said, most of my clips are from the first eight seasons when the show was focused on the characters much more than the newer episodes are.

There are many newer episodes of The Simpsons available for free at hulu.com along with an assortment of videoclips from earlier seasons. These can be shown in class or embedded in a web site. For specific clips that I use in class, see the videoclips category.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

3 responses to “Why ‘The Simpsons’?”

  1. teachingpublicspeaking says :

    Reblogged this on teachingpublicspeaking and commented:

    Good news for Simpsons videos in class! SimpsonsWorld.com now makes videos from The Simpsons available online for free — if you have a cable or DirecTV subscription. The site has one clip pulled from each episode, which you can link to directly (like this one, which I would show in class as a failed attempt at creative language or simile) and it has entire episodes available, which can be downloaded and then you can skip ahead to the part you wish to show in class.

    The clips are available to everyone, even without a cable login, but the episodes require you to create a login and have a cable or DirecTV account number available. Luckily, the episodes are organized by season and episode number, which is how I listed the episodes that I suggested here.

    I’m very pleased that these videos will be more accessible for use in class. I’ll be taking a look through my recommendations to see which ones are already available as clips at the site and provide links. Contact me with questions.

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