Mr. Feeny vs. Mr. Belding: A Scientific Analysis of Educative Methods

Teachers can make or break you. To be sure, many of us can fondly remember a teacher that inspired us to reach our full potentials. For ages, passionate people with plenty of free time have debated who is the best teacher/principal:

George Feeny (from Boy Meets World)…


or… Richard Belding (from Saved By the Bell). - Different Psychology

Luckily, psychological research can help us determine once and for all which of these men excelled at his job and which man succumbed to the rebelliousness and charm of teenage heartthrobs.

Research shows that students are likely to perform well in school depending on how they perceive their educator.  Specifically, student academic performance depends on:

  1. If the teacher was confident that students would do well in the course
  2. If the teacher asked students for input
  3. If the teacher understood his students

If students verify these three things, they are more likely to see their coursework as personally important and meaningful; they will then learn the material willingly, rather than feeling forced or pressured to do so.

Using these three scientifically validated criteria, I will pit Mr. Feeny against Mr. Belding in a brutal contest leaving just one elderly educator standing. Let us begin!

1. Did He Convey Confidence in His Students?

Although he expressed great faith in the futures of straight-A students like Jessie Spano and Screech Powers, Mr. Belding continuously badmouthed perpetual academic disaster Zack Morris. Indeed, any of Belding’s attempts to encourage Zack inevitably ended in failure.

Consider Belding’s reaction to Zack scoring a whopping 1502 on his SAT test (which, by the way, is impossible). The minute the tests results were in, Belding gave Zack hours of extra homework and forced him into notorious “nerd” classes such as “College-level Russian.” Belding’s clumsy, overbearing reaction led to Zack underachieving worse than ever! Shame on you, Mr. Balding!

Mr. Feeny was able to bring out the best in even the most hopeless students, most notably the seemingly dim-witted Eric Matthews and big-lipped bad boy Shawn Hunter. The fact that both of these guys managed to stay out of jail for any extended period of time is a true testament to the magnificence of Mr. Feeny. Whether by patient tutoring or a lack of face slapping, this man exuded great confidence in students who would have otherwise become vicious criminals.

Winner: Feeny
Score: Feeny 1, Belding 0

2. Did He Ask for Input from His Students?

Despite many admirable qualities, Mr. Feeny was a rigid educator who was simply not interested in the suggestions of his students. When they weren’t fast asleep, Corey and Shawn often lamented how they were unable to relate to the material or recognize its objective importance.

Instead of making necessary adjustments, Feeny reprimanded them and continued to expect their steadfast attention. By this time, the film Dead Poet’s Society had long been released, so Feeny had no excuse for not engaging his students, whether by hilarious character impressions or thrilling soccer contests.

Good teachers always get carried off into the sunset by their students.

For better or worse, Belding constantly sought the approval of his teenage students. One way he did this was by regularly asking them to contribute ideas. After offering to take the senior class on a trip to Yosemite National Park, his students instead asked to go on a white water rafting trip with Belding’s evil brother, Rod. And he agreed right away! I’m not suggesting that this decision was wise or even safe, but Belding assured the students that he would do whatever they wanted. In fact, after Rod bailed on the students for a weekend fling, Belding offered to take them on the trip, despite having no rafting experience or luggage.

Winner: Belding
Score: Feeny 1, Belding 1

3. Did He Understand His Students?

Among all the students at Bayside High, one student presented the ultimate psychological challenge for Belding: Zack Morris. In the legendary “Cut Day” episode, Belding devotes his life to ensuring that Zack does not cut school.

Through a series of outrageous events culminating in Belding eating a chocolate grasshopper, the seasoned Principal does an impressive job of anticipating the blonde trickster’s every move. Despite being outsmarted in the end, Belding proved to be a formidable challenge to Zack, all as a result of understanding this unruly student perhaps even better than his own wife.

Despite Feeny’s patient efforts to give his students good educations, this gang of rascals remained boastful and unlearned. While attempting to explain the pivotal invention of Gutenberg’s printing press, Feeny had a stunning outburst that shook these punks to their very core:

“Gutenberg’s generation thirsted for a new book every six months. Your generation gets a new webpage every six seconds! And how do you use this technology? To beat King Koopa and save the Princess. Shame on you! You deserve what you get.”

The students, convicted by the truth they had just heard, offered nothing in response. Indeed, Feeny understood his students so well that even the infamous wise-cracker Shawn Hunter was stunned into silence!

Winner: Feeny
Score: Feeny 2, Belding 1

Behold your winner, a fine educator and legendary mustache-wearer, Mr. George Feeny! applauds everything he has accomplished and eagerly awaits the release of his tell-all autobiography: Those Darn Kids: Confessions of a Bitter Public School Principal.

feeny pointing
“Yes; I believe in you too!”

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About the Author

Dr. Della Porta received his Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from the University of California, Riverside. He enjoys playing, drums, and playing drums.

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