Ms. Frizzle & The Magic School Bus

This essay is a part of a series exploring teachers in fiction that have stuck around for one reason or another to influence motivations and aspirations of teaching and learning. 

Teachers in Fiction
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Ms. Frizzle

Eccentric. Odd. Good. Iconic. Created by writer Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degan, Ms. Frizzle is the adventurous and fabulous teacher of The Magic School Bus, a series of books and a show that continues to influence and inspire teachers, students, and has produced many pedagogical innovations. Read this PECE essay on Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus to explore why. 

Jack Black on Teaching

A scene from the movie School of Rock (2003) fronted by Jack Black. A proverb for those who dismiss teaching as a second-rate profession. It shows how ideals of meritocracy undermine the intellectual and cultural work that teachers do. 

Robin Williams on being a teacher

Robin Williams portrays dedicated, mission-oriented teacher John Keating who suffuses a cohort of high school students with his love of poetry. He is up against a schooling system that stifles creativity for efficiency. 

The Text

A compilation of some of The Magic School Bus books written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degan.

Obituary: Joanna Cole (1944-2020)

Writer of the trailblazing children's science books The Magic School Bus and creator of the iconic science teacher Ms. Frizzle Read more

The Magic School Bus Today

Why the Magic School Bus continues to ride strong today

The Magic School Bus Made the World Safe for Weird Teachers (2020)

"eccentric"; "odd-but-good"; "diverse interests, complete fearlessness, and unflagging cheer"; " unafraid to be enthusiastic"; "never the hero"Read more

This School Year, Unleash Your Inner Ms. Frizzle (2020)

A mom of a six-year old daughter vows to be inspired by Ms. Frizzle to tackle remote learning during the COVID19 pandemic. Read more

Bruce Degan's illustration of Ms. Frizzle as the Statue of Liberty for the March for Science, 2017

Who Gets to Be on the Bus?: Tracing Conceptions of Race in and around The Magic School Bus from 1986 to 2018 (2021)

Author critiques MSB for its superficial focus on multiculturalism with whiteness as the dominant frame. Even though the visual representations of MSB characters in the Netflix reboot have changed, the cultural stereotypes have stagnated since the 1980s. Read more

Recognizing Ms. Frizzle's Own Magic (2017)

A science communicator remains inspired by Ms. Frizzle's motto of "take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!". Read more

A ‘magic’ school bus brings science class to schools in need (2021)

Non-profit organization Learning Undefeated brings an "explorer lab bus", a mobile STEM lab to rural and low-income schools for immersive STEM experiences. Read more

The Multiple Lives of Ms. Frizzle

Ms. Frizzle lives on...

"Ms. Frizzle", a middle school science teacher, documents her experiences teaching, learning, and being all together human. This blog has been studied for its potential for teacher identity and professional development

Calling Ms. Frizzle: Sharing Informational Texts in an Elementary Classroom

Zapata and Maloch discuss best practices for reading informational texts, working with a third-grade teacher who wants to be like Ms. FrizzleRead more

Genre Analysis

why The Magic School Bus inspires pedagogical innovations

The Magic School Bus and Beyond (2022)

How teachers can use hybrid texts (factual + narrative, in this case) for science learning, including activity suggestionsRead more

The Role of Genre in a Text: Reading through the Waterworks (2004)

Authors discuss the interplay of different genres in the children's book The Magic School Bus: At the Waterworks (1996) with Ms. Frizzle as their science teacher. Read more