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Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher
"Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts, I must say! And to see such happy little faces looking up at me! I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all and I'm sure we'll be very good friends!"
Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To a crowd of teens, aged 11 to 18.

Some teachers have an odd tendency to speak to their students as though they are kindergarteners. Even if they're teaching a class of 19-year-old Cram Schoolers, or adults in a workplace training-course. This can be irritating, cute, or both depending on both the teacher and the class. Whether this is limited to just the teacher's demeanor, or whether it actually affects what they teach also varies.

Most of them are nice, if overly so. But when these teachers are downright nasty, the trope goes straight into Sadist Teacher territory.

Compare Hippie Teacher, with whom this sometimes overlaps. Contrast Stern Teacher and Sadist Teacher. Averted entirely by the Cool Teacher.

Of course, this is Truth in Television, especially with foreign language teachers.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Takako Shimizu from Chobits wanted to teach young children but her husband convinced her to become a Cram School teacher so they would have more time together. And then left her for his persocom. She's popular with her students as she still teaches them the correct tutorial and they think it's cute. It helps that she's hot.
  • FLCL has a borderline example. A teacher who's more infantile than her students, she treats them like babies (they are in fact in 6th grade). Case in point: she can't use chopsticks. A grown Japanese woman who can't use chopsticks.
  • Mihoshi in Magical Project S is the fourth grade teacher for Sasami's class, but doesn't seem like she could even pass fourth grade herself. Also, the teacher at the prep school acts like this, even getting commented on by one of the students ("does she think we're in kindergarten or something?").
  • Ton-Chan (yes) from Air Gear.
  • There's one in Dinosaur King, crossing into Christmas Cake and Cloud Cuckoo Lander at the same time.

     Comic Books  
  • Patty from Knights of the Dinner Table is a kindergarten teacher. However, she has difficulties turning the attitude off and ends up treating her gaming group like a bunch of preschoolers, including a 'Time Out Corner' with '5 points to ponder'.

     Fan Fic 
  • Inverted in Strings as Tarrlok is over-qualified to be an elementary school teacher and trying to teach his students the advanced stuff, which goes over their heads.

    Film 
  • Not a teacher, but Teri Hatcher's character in Spy Kids, Ms. Gredenko, initially talks to Carmen and Juni with a vibe of this. She turns out to be The Mole.
  • Amy Squirrel, the goody-goody Hero Antagonist in Bad Teacher.
  • It's the lead in Literature, but Imelda Staunton's performance as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films deserves mention simply because it's such horror.

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge combines this with Sadist Teacher, becoming even worse (Harry's detention with her involved Writing Lines in his own blood)
    Umbridge: “Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts, I must say! And to see such happy little faces looking back at me!”
    Harry glanced around. None of the faces he could see looked happy; on the contrary, they all looked rather taken aback at being addressed as though they were five years old.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg's mother is gleefully oblivious to Greg's unhappiness to any inconvenience she causes him, from inviting Fregley over to play hide n' seek, to making him participate in the school play of The Wizard of Oz, to joining in Greg's "Magick and Monsters" game and completely ignoring the "kill and level up" nature of the game. Justified, because she used to be a preschool teacher.
  • The Cheerful Fairy in Hogfather has shades of this. She addresses elderly wizards as though they were five-year-olds, trying to get them involved in friendship-building and morale-boosting activities. Oh yes, and she cried when they told her to cut it out. She was like Barney with butterfly wings.
    • She also claims that she never touches alcohol-the wizards drily remark that they find it's something to be cheerful about.
    • While Death's granddaughter Susan has largely inverted this trope, treating her kindergarten students as if they were inconveniently small adults, she has developed the habit of bowdlerizing her own vocabulary ('Does a bear poo in the woods?') even in front of grown-ups.
  • Eliza Jane Wilder in the Little House books teaches this way when she takes over as teacher of Laura's school, talking down to her students and saying things like "Birds in their little nests agree." It makes almost all of her students uncomfortable, and Laura observes to herself that - aside from proving that she knows nothing about birds if she really believes that's true - Miss Wilder will stand no chance whatsoever of being able to maintain discipline in the classroom that way once the older boys come to school after the harvest. Her prediction proves only too accurate.
  • Miss Caroline from To Kill a Mockingbird manages to be this even though she is teaching very young kids. The problem is that they're children of farmers who have done manual labor pretty much since they could walk, and they're not really interested in the story of Mrs. Cat and her kittens. She gets a nasty shock when she meets one of the Ewells, a family who traditionally show up for the first day of school to satisfy the truant officer and hardly set foot in town the rest of the year. She tries to apply basic school rules to the kid and ends up getting "slut" screamed at her.

     Live Action TV  
  • The supremely incompetent university lecturers from Skins - the punishment for running away from the guided tour, falling in the pool, smashing up a lab or smoking cannabis is the same: a "I'm very disappointed in you. Now come along for some squash and biscuits" speech. It's especially grating when the female one says "oh, alright, you can shag me" in the exact same tone of voice.
    • Josie, Chris's careers adviser and later an English teacher, is possibly worse. Shakespeare should never be taught to college students with hand puppetry.
  • Mr. G, Chris Lilley's character, made most known by Summer Heights High. A drama teacher, naturally. The topics of his teachings, however, are... rather less than the expected cutesy (the mentioned show's play about a schoolgirl dying of an ecstacy overdose, and another show's musical about the Vietnam war being prime examples).
    • In the successor show Angry Boys, we have juvenile prison guard Gran, a zigzagged version of the trope. She is aware of what her charges have done and isn't afraid to be hard on them. On the other hand, she knits them superhero pyjamas.
  • While Lily from How I Met Your Mother is a kindergarten teacher, in the brief period when she had other jobs she showed a tendency to try and deal with workplace conflicts in the same manner and with the same reasoning as she had with the little children (well, if they are going to act like children...). One episode had her working as an assistant in Ted's office and end up taking away the boss' "toy," a signed baseball, because he was being a Jerk Ass.
    • It is worth noting that this approach works rather well for dealing with her husband, Marshall.
    • However, Lilly's approach to actually being a kindergarten teacher tends to be a bit more adult then expected. There was the one incident with the severed toy horse's head next to the sleeping unruly kid.
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch featured Alec Baldwin as an enthusiastic French teacher who forced his students to always answer in a very bouncy, lilting manner, much to their annoyance (if you've ever taken a public school French class, you know exactly how this sounds). The skit ended with said teacher vacationing in Paris and trying to make a gang of Parisian street toughs start talking in the same way. Needless to say, they kick the crap out him.
  • Another non-teacher example: Ricki Lake sure did sound like this when explaining the rules to all the game shows featured on Game$how Marathon.
  • John, who runs the Orphanage of Fear errant teens go to in the semi-dystopia of K9, talks like a kindergarten teacher even when he's extorting ten million credits from the Department.
  • And another non-teacher example: Ms. Herbig from Dead Like Me, the manager of the Happy Time temp agency. She has a habit of talking to her employees as though they're children, and she seems to think children are happy little automatons that don't really think, because when her employees don't pretend for her benefit, she gets snippy. She actually tells people "as in her big brown eyes" as a mnemonic to remember her name.
  • Jazz from Season 9 of The Apprentice was this... on a business reality show. Treating business 'professionals' like five year olds and talking like a hopelessly outdated teacher did not endear her to either her 'team' nor Lord Sugar, and she got fired after the first week when her team lost the task. Saying 'Aw man!' to Lord Sugar didn't help either...

    Theater 
  • The title character of Ms Bleep has a very good excuse for this—she's a robot, and she treats everyone as a student as part of her programming. She's also malfunctioning quite badly—for instance, she won't let her "students" leave at the end of the day, giving them a paralyzing shock every time they attempt to escape. They've apparently been surviving on milk and cookies for a long time.

    Video Games 
  • Miss Francine Primm in City of Villains, who says things like "Smiles are frowns turned upside-down!" unironically. She ends up teaching a class of (adult) drugged-up leet-speaking cyberpunk anarchists, and succeeds, as her students will do anything to protect her.
  • The sweet-voiced pirate re-education teacher in Escape from Monkey Island. Impeccably voiced by Edie McClurg, and perhaps the scariest character in the game.
  • In Psychonauts, Milla sees her students as little children and treats them accordingly. If you use Clairvoyance on her, you can see Raz through her eyes as a very small child. It turns out that she once worked at an Orphanage of Love which was accidentally burned down, and her psychic abilities caused her to hear the thoughts of all the children as they burned to death. She was traumatized as a result. The part of her mind that contains these memories is well-hidden, and she gently tells Raz not to go there. Granted, her students are all pre-adolescent, but their mental maturity varies wildly because they're all psychics and excessively strange.

     Web Animation  
  • Homestar Runner has Marzipan be this in the Strong Bad E-mail coloring. Though considering her students are Strong Mad, Homestar, and Homsar...
  • Making Fiends usually has teacher spineless Mr. Milk, but one day he was sick, and was replaced by Mrs. Minty, who was one of these. Vendetta could not handle her condescending ways, and eventually forced a not yet recovered Milk to teach the class.

    Webcomics 

     Western Animation  
  • Arthur: The third-grade teacher in the classroom next door — all they ever do in that class is sit around and sing songs.
    • In one episode, the class had Mr. Ratburn's sister as a substitute teacher, who insisted on teaching lessons including but not limited to "yellow and blue make green" and "cat is spelled C-A-T." By the end of the episode, the class realized how much better off they were with Mr. Ratburn.
  • Technically inverted in the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Held Back". Beavis and Butt-head are ninth graders demoted to kindergarten ("These chicks are flat!"), but the kindergarten teacher still treats them in the same manner as she does with her other students.
  • Ms. Doe, the scoutmaster for the Squirrel Scouts in Camp Lazlo.
  • The substitute teacher Daria's class gets in the Daria episode "Lucky Strike". (Although in her case it might be senility.)
    Here are your tests. I don't think I've ever written so many "A's". You're the smartest - and biggest - first graders I've ever had.
    • Mr. O'Neil has shades of this as well. To his credit, he does acknowledge that he's teaching young adults here, but he's so colossally spineless that he can't bring himself to deal with them on their own level.
    • Arguably Mr. DeMartino. When he had to work a day camp with Mr. O'Neil, he found that he was able to connect with the kids much easier than Mr. O'Neil could (it helped that the kids quickly warmed up to him when he chewed out a bully). By the end of the summer, the kids reminded him of why he became a teacher in the first place. Sadly, this faded shortly after the school year started back up.
  • Doug's school counselor Mr. Shellacky straddles this trope and Hippie Teacher, often suggesting hugs, and talks about his computers, or the current problems Doug has in a sing-song voice and giving pet names. He also often uses babyish phrases like "Mr. Computer had a little tummy-ache."
  • Peppy Happy Gary and Betty from The Fairly OddParents run an institution called Flappy Bob's Learnatorium. It's meant for kids of all ages, but they seem to either not realize or care - everyone's a five year old in their mind, even the ten year old protagonist or that octopus kid who just dropped through the roof. They also take safety regulations to levels that would be outright ludicrous even for ACTUAL kindergarteners. Their regulations are so restrictive, that they wind up inadvertently sucking all the fun out of the activity. For example, their favorite "safety" tactic is to stuff their charges into safety suits that are heavily padded to the point that you can't even move in them. The suits are always intended for activities where you have to move.
    "Am I having fun yet?"
    Timmy, upon being thrown into a ball pit by them while wearing one of the suits and left to sink
  • "Miss Go" (Shego temporarily turned good) acts like this in one Kim Possible episode.
  • Somewhat inverted in Powerpuff Girls. Ms. Keane, an actual Kindergarten teacher, usually acts like a normal teacher for that grade. However she sometimes teaches overly advanced subjects to her five year olds.
  • Ms. Grotke in Recess has the voice, but is otherwise more of a Hippie Teacher.
    • ...and the reason she has the voice is because Allyce Beasley did talk to kindergartners through the Playhouse Disney brand.
  • Both subverted and inverted (at various times) by Mr. Garrison of South Park. Although Garrison uses a puppet in his third-grade class, he doesn't treat his students like kindergarteners otherwise (he tends more toward "verbally abusive"). Later on, when he's demoted to kindergarten teacher, he does things like show them how to put a condom on. Someone else. With your mouth.
  • Arcee in Transformers Animated, but it's not her fault - the Decepticons screwed with her programming while looking for information, causing her to think she really was teaching the Cybertron equivalent of kindergarten again.
  • Zigzagged on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Cheerilee is the only teacher we ever see, though it's implied there are more. The exact age of her students is also in question because they're a different species. She talks like a kindergarten teacher to them, but explains setting concepts (like history and biology) more akin to a middle school teacher, and on the blackboard she often has advanced planetary physics equations.
  • In American Dad!, Deputy Director Bullock seems to run the C.I.A. as though it was a pre-school, in one instance even sending Stan to the corner for a time out and not allowing him to have milk.

     Real Life  
  • Truth in Television — a lot of teachers are like this.
  • Many who work in special education are this. They'll use babytalk with their charges, act like they need everything done for them, treat them as if they are very young children, and plan out activities for them that are very appropriate for students who are in kindergarten or preschool, even if they are adolescents. Needless to say, being in special ed can really suck for this reason.
  • Many people become this when talking to their pets. Depending on the animal you might get a 'I am not amused' stare back. This is mostly justified in the case of dogs, who find high pitched, 'baby-talk' voices non-threatening. (And really, just try reciting "To be or not to be" in a baby-talk voice.)
    Charles Schulz: I see so many dogs who are clearly more intelligent than their owners.
  • Mary Murphy talks to people like they're babies... or dogs.
  • This can happen to teachers who've spent a long time teaching kindergarten and are then transferred to higher grades. The habits take a while to break.
  • There's also the inverse, where a teacher teaching kindergarten will talk to her/his students as if they are teenagers/young adults and will expect them to behave as if they are teenagers/young adults. Needless to say, having such a teacher can give a person issues well into adulthood.
  • Teachers of a foreign language to adults have to avoid becoming like this; just because their students are less articulate in the target language does not mean they're less mature or less intelligent, and the most effective teachers learn to balance accessible language with concepts, and treatment, appropriate for adult students.


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