In an upcoming presentation where I hope to make a case to a group of teachers that they are more innovative then they give themselves credit for, I planned to show a well worn clip of the teaching style I am fairly sure they do not employ

What I loved in looking this up is that Ben Stein totally improvised this bit, that it was not John Hughes’ script except for the “Bueller? Bueller?” roll call. Even in the credits, the guy is so dull he does not even have a name, just “The Economics Teacher”. Sometimes I am curious at how they got the kids to get that empty a stare, but maybe they have a lot of practice.

More about this bit via the source:

Ben Stein’s famous monotonic lecture about the Hawley”“Smoot Tariff Act was not originally in Hughes’s script. Stein, by happenstance, was lecturing off-camera to the amusement of the student cast. “I was just going to do it off camera, but the student extras laughed so hard when they heard my voice that (Hughes) said do it on camera, improvise, something you know a lot about. When I gave the lecture about supply side economics, I thought they were applauding. Everybody on the set applauded. I thought they were applauding because they had learned something about supply side economics. But they were applauding because they thought I was boring…It was the best day of my life,” Stein said.

Need I say more about the electricity/power of doing improv?

What happened was I downloaded this clip of The Lecture as FLV, and wanted to test conversion to mp4 via two desktop apps, Miro and Evom. I loaded both the videos up in QuickTime PLayer to compare them (to my eye and ear they were), but played with running them both together and saw a funky sterero-ish effect.

I grabbed a screen recording with iShowU, and the only video editing was in QuickTime Pro to trim the ends, and do a little cut and past of the “Voodoo” at the end since original clip cut off the “economics” – this was at the low end of low end productions

Just for fun, I found a web page that had the text of the teacher’s lines, so it was easy peasy to add that as captions in YouTube.

So, does anyone teach like this? Anyone? Anyone?

I thought so.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I had a driver’s ed teacher (no car, just theory) who was totally as monotone as Stein. When I went back to observe when I became a teacher he said he was always so boring so that when he had to yell at them when they were being bad that they actually listened to him!

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