The Andy Griffith Show: S3 E23, Andy Discovers America
- Publication date
- Public Domain
- Andy Griffith Show, Andy Griffith, Ronny Howard, Don Knotts, Frances Bavier, Aneta Corsaut, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, Andy Taylor, 1960s, 1963, Classic TV
Original Air Date: March 4, 1963 (Season 3, Episode 23).
Opie's had it with his history homework, and misinterprets Andy's empathy as an excuse to skip it and lead his friends in revolt against their teacher, "Old Lady" Crump. When Miss Crump holds Andy responsible, he must find a way to motivate Opie and his pals.
The character of Helen Crump was supposed to be a one-shot. That is why they gave the character an unpleasant sounding name. But the producers were so impressed with Aneta Corsaut's performance and her rapport with Andy Griffith that they made her a regular cast member.
Andy Griffith ... Sheriff Andy Taylor
Ron Howard ... Opie Taylor (as Ronny Howard)
Don Knotts ... Deputy Barney Fife
Frances Bavier ... Aunt Bee Taylor
Aneta Corsaut ... Helen Crump
Joey Scott ... Whitey Porter
Dennis Rush ... Howie Pruitt
Richard Keith ... Johnny Paul Jason
- 2010-08-07 23:08:43
- Run time
Subject: Andy Discovers America
Season 3 episode 23, Andy Discovers America, starts with Opie telling Andy his troubles with his history teacher, saying she gives too much homework. Andy tells Opie simply to try his best, that history is hard for everyone – Opie takes his dad’s words as an excuse not to do his homework. Opie goes to class the following day unprepared and is singled out by the teacher because of it. After Opie tells the teacher what he perceived his dad to say, that history isn't important, the teacher pays a visit to the Sheriff to confront him over what happened in class. Word spreads across town that the teacher is going to quit because of the incident, and Andy tells Opie and his friends that they should celebrate! Andy tells the boys that there is a possibility that the new teacher, if they even get a new one, may not give any homework because of the way the treated the last. He reels the boys in by telling them that they definitely don’t want to learn about Red Coats and Indians and guns – the boys’ interest is sparked, and they beg Andy to tell them more. Andy mentions “the shot heard around the world,” and the boys (including Barney) decide this is the story they must hear. Andy tells the story of the founding of America, and the boys seem to crave more information. Andy, without saying it explicitly, teaches the boys that history is both important and interesting. He introduces the idea of the “Mayberry Minutemen,” a play-off of the historical Minutemen, an invite-only group made up of the boys who took studying seriously and were always ready with the answers. The boys love the idea, Opie even insisting that the boys who don’t join the club are the British. The next day, the boys are anxious to show off their newly acquired knowledge, even arguing with each other over who were the first real Americans. The teacher is obviously impressed, and it is implied that she isn’t leaving the job after all.
The 1960s was a time of high tensions in race relations. While African Americans were making great legal and legislative progress, white society was not yet ready to accept the African Americans’ equal status. Differences in employment, education, healthcare, and living situations were still widely seen during this time period. The Andy Griffith Show, instead of bringing light to these issues, completely avoided topics of race and segregation — it’s never mentioned or portrayed in the show. In this particular episode, Andy asks Barney to tell Opie what the Emancipation Proclamation was: not only was Barney (or the rest of the table) unable to tell what the Proclamation was, but Andy even tells Barney “not to worry about the Emancipation Proclamation,” and Barney’s snarky reply was, “oh, I won’t!” The show, with an all-white case, only gave African Americans background character roles and only one African American had ever had a speaking role on the show. The show, like most Americans of the 1960s, wanted to avoid race tensions in hopes that it would all go away so they could return to their normal lives. The nostalgia invoked attempted to bring Americans back to the “good days” where race was simply not a topic of discussion — Americans didn’t want to hear it, and so the producers decided not to say it. The Andy Griffith Show reinforced the social construction of an all-white society, which is probably one of the many reasons it captured such a large audience – the American people wanted something that reminded them of how wonderful a white life was before the Civil Rights Movement and the series gave them just that. Based on this, it is safe to assume that the target audience was intended to be a white audience. The whitewashed cast and the ignorance towards African American life and history were a ploy to get the average African American to skip the station when they saw the legendary title or heard the classic theme song. While not directly, the show indirectly perpetuates white supremacy and the inferiority of African Americans.
Subject: Andy Makes a Mistake
The teacher, Miss Crump, catches up with Andy and reads him the riot act. To fix what he's done, Andy tells the boys stories about history that engage their attention, then lets them join his secret history "club" and act out the parts.
The teacher remarks on their sudden interest in learning the subject and Andy gets the chance to explain how to keep children engaged.
This is an age old problem and is still a problem. People who know a lot of factual information often don't know how to teach that information in a way kids care about. Lists of names and dates to memorize had me dreading history class as well. Too bad my teachers didn't know Andy's secret.
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