|“||This class teaches lessons you cannot find in a textbook.||”|
Mr. Matthews' History Classroom is Room 18 on the first floor of John Quincy Adams Middle School Located between the Gymnasium, Cafeteria, and Art Department, it is where Cory Matthews primarily spends his school day, teaching both World and American History to his students.
DescriptionThe room has two entrances, and a line of windows which look into the hallway of lockers leading to the Cafeteria. The opposite end of the room has windows which offer an exterior view of the school grounds. The walls are lined with various maps and pictures depicting historical figures, locations, and events. Globes, busts, and replicated artifacts from the past are on display on the tables or hung from both the walls and ceiling. A ring of tiny flags have been set high above within the room. The front is dominated by Mr. Matthews' desk and a simple chalkboard. In a special tribute of personal importance to Cory, he has arranged to have the parting words of his own mentor and teacher, George Feeny: "DREAM. TRY. DO GOOD." prominently set upon the back wall.
To understand the causes behind the American Civil War, all students are assigned to write on essay on what they think is worth fighting for. This leads Riley and Maya to initiate the "Homework Rebellion" as all the female students leave class. The next day, after seizing sparklers from Farkle's elaborate diorama on peace, Maya accidently sets off the sprinklers, drenching the entire room.
After their teacher accuses their generation of overdependence on the conveniences of the modern world, the students are paired off to complete a project outlining how technology has affected humanity--without the use of electronic devices, and have their cellphones confiscated. The next day, even technophile Farkle, acknowledges Mr. Matthews' point.
As the events stemming from the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, are discussed, Riley and her rival, Missy, vie for the attention of their classmate Lucas, with extremely embarassing results for Riley. The next day in detention, Riley and her friends experience for themselves, just how simple trust can strengthen alliances
As the students receive their quizzes on the life of Charles Darwin, Maya, who has gotten a failing grade, walks out of class, and out of school.
Mr. Matthews espouses upon how the perception of Truth has affected the course of History.
The story of the Sword of Damocles is studied. Riley's decision to adopt the appearance of a Harajuku Girl causes quite a stir in class. Later in the week, the Spelling Bee between John Quincy Adams and Einstein Academy (with Isadora Smackle) is held.
The annual Career Day has arrived, with Topanga Matthews and Stuart Minkus among the parents attending that speak to the students. The next day, a late Katy Hart arrives, preempting a lecture on the Korean War, by reenacting her recent failed soap opera audition, to everyone in the class' amusement, except for Maya.
Mr. Matthews uses a prettily wrapped present to illustrate the story of the Trojan Horse. Proving how well he knows his pupils, it all proves to be an elaborate ploy to manipulate an emboldened Maya into dancing upon his desk--exactly as the teacher predicted. Later, Farkle and the Academic Halves hold a meeting of the JQA Debate Team in the History Room, and induct Lucas into their ranks.
When everyone in his entire drowsy class (beyond Farkle) fails to show any enthusiasm for the decade of the 1960's, Mr. Matthews is at a complete loss to explain why. They claim that the events of over fifty years in the past (when they presume their teacher was their age) has absolutely no relevance to their present. Seemingly acknowledging defeat, Matthews states he will not teach them about the Sixties. As the class cheers, he suddenly adds that therefore, they will teach themselves, by researching and presenting the life of one their own family members living during that specific era. Riley and Lucas deide to make their presentation together. When Farkle makes his presentation, he reveals the startling coincidence that the great grandparents of Riley, Maya, Lucas, and himself, all met in New York City at the Greenwich Village coffee house, Café Hey, on December 14, 1961. The next day, the friends arrive early to class with a newfound respect for History.
When his daughter's worries for the future disrupt his lecture on Belgium Independence, Mr. Matthews instead decides to split the class in half to operate two mock businesses, Riley and Farkle are to run one, while Maya and Lucas are to run the other with the rest of the students as their workforce. Due to having one currently sitting on his desk, the teacher decides they will compete in muffin sales. When their first progress reports are presented, Maya and Lucas have had dismal sales and high debt (to Lucas' mom who bought their initial stock of muffins), while Farkle and Riley reveal incredible sales and large profits. However, this is due Farkle's decision to use an extremely high sugar content in their recipe--a fact of which Riley was unaware. Farkle then decides to orchestrate a merger of the ficticous companies, and has Lucas fire Riley and Maya, who leave the class. The next day, Riley and Maya present their concept of the non-profit Matthews And Hart Umbrella Foundation to Farkle's disbelief. But Farkle is completely astonished when Evelyn Rand of Rand Industries, comes to their classroom, in person, to fund the girl's idea, allowing it to become an actual reality. The young genius is further made uncomfortble, as Ms. Rand personally singles out "the Farkle" to impart some advice on business, as well as on life.
Despite his attempts to maintain a desperate deathgrip on the teacher's desk, and then upon the teacher, himself, Farkle cannot convince Mr. Matthews to write him a note excusing him from Gym class. Thus forcing Farkle to confront one of his greatest fears--playing softball.
When Mr. Matthews attempts to have the class identify what was the Great Depression, his daughter, Riley replies she thought it was called the Grand Canyon. Having no other recourse, the teacher calls out to his go-to-student, Farkle, who outlines how the decline of the American economy following the Stock Crash of 1929 led to the falling fortunes of the already disadvantaged working class. Thus causing them to ultimately become classified as--"The Forgotten"--the words written across the chalkboard. As Riley asks if such circumstances could affect the people currently living in the Grand Canyon, her father subtly, hints that there may be people around Riley that she does not appreciate at their full value. She thanks him for pointing out how poorly she has been treating Maya. This causes a dismayed Mr. Matthews to feign the bell ringing and depart class early. Early the next week, Janitor Harley Keiner and Lunch Lady Geralyn Thompson, are introduced to the class by their respective recent trainees Farkle and Lucas, and Riley and Maya. The pair are lauded for their tireless efforts to benefit the school, and are openly thanked by their former charges, all of whom have developed a new respect and appreciation for their brief mentors.
Mr. Matthews is recognizing the members of the class who have won or is in the running for various JQA Student Awards which include Maya for coolness, Lucas and his baseball teammate Billy Ross, for scholar athlete, and Farkle, for confidence. It is only then that the teacher notices that Farkle is not physically present, and that a telepresence monitor has been left in his place, which apparently suffers technical difficulties, when Farkle's location is requested. After class, Riley is dismayed that she is not up for any awards, and claims she feels invisible at times. From the monitor, Farkle voice abruptly notes that sometimes being invisible is preferable. The next day the class is tasked to identify pictures of Gandhi and Jackie Robinson, but the inane answers offered up by his students cause Mr. Matthews to jokingly declare that he is quitting--to which the voice of Farkle instantly objects. When asked, Farkle via the device serving as his proxy, claims that he is still sick. The lesson continues and Riley correctly names the final picture as Malala (Yousafzai of Pakistan). Their teacher then states what they have in common: all three, with their great courage, took the opportunities the world provided them, and overcame overwhelming obstacles to achieve societal change. Inspired by her father's words, Riley (knowing exactly where Farkle has secreted himself) asks to be excused in order to take the opportunity to help her friend. Two days later, Mr. Matthews walks into his class to discover all his students, with a single exception, have words written across their foreheads, which he is soon informed, was at Riley's behest. Having been told by his daughter the details of what really happened to her friend, he realizes the scenario is not for Farkle's benefit, but rather for his tormentor, the only one with a clean forehead, Billy Ross. Seeing the entire class admit to their own flaws in order to demonstrate how wrong he was for calling Farkle "the biggest nothing in school," eventually does get through to Billy. He begins to get an inkling of what Farkle felt, and admits to being jealous of the other's genius and close circle of friends, and asks Farkle to write that flaw on his forehead. Their teacher then tells them that everyone has flaws, but that friends can help erase them. He then has Riley and Maya symbolically demonstrate that by wiping their flaws away with a box of moist tissues. This inspires Billy to apologize to Farkle, and erase the "Nothing" written across his brow. Farkle forgives him, and offers to take off his flaw but Billy states he wants to live with it a bit longer. Lucas steps up to the teacher to ask if his friend will be okay. At that moment, Janitor Harley (who had been allowing Farkle to use his custodial office as a hideaway)enters to return Farkle's discarded turtlenecks. As he leaves, Harley reminds the students that "This is Mr, Matthews," giving the former target of his youthful shenanigans a friendly shake, before leaving. Mr. Matthews then tells Lucas that people can change.
Four days before the JQA Seventh Grade Elections, the faculty member in charge of the event, Mr. Matthews, suggests that the candidates represent other forms of government. Farkle nominates himself as dictator, which is seconded by "the class Rebel"--newcomer Brandon. Riley nominates (and seconds) a tardy Lucas for president. Maya objects, as she states that Riley should not be aiding the competition. Riley replies that she is not running for anything, but Maya assures her that situation will not last much longer. Two days later, Riley, now running for princess, presents her political ad to the class, depicting herself as a magical ruler astride a unicorn, capable of banishing homework and annoying teachers. Farkle then presents his, featuring himself (and his "Dictatorettes," Sarah and Darby) declaring their fondness of animals, and then shows that Riley and Maya kept the horse used for Riley's unicorn, briefly in Riley's bedroom. This causes Riley to get mad at Farkle, who then displays a measure of regret. Maya takes advantage of the scene and warns everyone that Farkle is probably spying on all of them as well. Lucas speaks up that friends shouldn't be attacking each other, and gets the girls to promise not to target Farkle. Maya agrees, as she has decided that Lucas is now the front runner. Riley tries to dissuade her campaign manger from using such tactics, but if Maya does find some kind of dirt on Lucas, not to tell Riley anything about it.
To augment his lecture on the American Revolution, Mr. Matthews selects his daughter, Riley, and her friends, to present a skit, "The Revolutionary War," which vaguely outlines the events behind the breaking away of the American colonies from England, leading to the formation of the United States. It begins with Farkle, as King George III of England greeting his subjects, and demanding the whereabouts of the rebellious John Adams. Riley then makes her appearance, pushing the King away, and identifying herself as John Quincy Adams, but Riley shows some confusion when the teacher points out she is just playing John Adams. Nonetheless, she introduces her rebels friends, Lucas as General George Washington, and an extremely reluctant Maya, as Benjamin Franklin. They declare their desire for freedom, but King George makes a royal decree that he will never let them go. This drives the colonist to openly declare their independence, for the sake of their friends and families (or families and friends, in the proper order Mr. Matthews maintains). This causes the King to react with military force which is illustrated (with the help of Farkle's "Cannon Guy") by the presence of an imposing cannon in class. Deciding the best way to ascertain whether the weapon is loaded or not, would be to physically slide into the barrel, the King does just that. Franklin, having gotten a hold of a sparkler, begins counting down to light the fuse, as the class scrambles to avoid the flight path. Sometime later, John Adams swings an American flag victoriously over a fallen King George III wallowing in defeat, wailing that he has lost everything. However, his teacher points out that the British Empire still has several other territories and great achievements lie both in the past and in the future. Mr. Matthews states that revolutions are temporal constructs, and that eventually warring nations can find their way back to peaceful co-existence. And that in the case of the United States and Great Britain, starting in 1814, their school's namesake, John Quincy Adams, was the person who spearheaded the reconciliation. Proving that such long games of diplomacy, if played in the correct fashion, can lead to peace and prosperity for all.
During Home Room, Mr. Matthews and his students watch Riley and Maya attempt to present the JQA morning announcements, but Riley's inability to read the copy properly and Maya's constant laughter as a result, hamper the broadcast. Farkle appears, revealing his Buggie Award nomination, and his need to finally make up his mind as to which girl will be his date to the ceremony. Later that day in History, Mr. Matthews asks Farkle to name the greatest ally to the US, but the preoccupied genius begs off. When the teacher opens the question to the rest, Sarah voices the class' collective wish for him to ask Farkle again. A truculent Farkle replies the answer is Canada. When Mr. Matthews asks if it's Buggie season again, Farkle confirms it, and admits to feeling somewhat stressed by his upcoming decision. Both Riley and Maya volunteer to bow out in favor of the other, but Farkle insists he needs to make the choice, himself. On the following Monday, the duo of Riley and Maya are still stumbling through the announcements presentation, which Mr. Matthews finds unbelievable, but Farkle deems his best friends to be perfect.
A frantic Mr. Matthews carries his daughter swiftly inside the room, and after locking Lucas on the other side of the door, deposits her at her desk. He then announces it is time for them to have "the talk." While Riley protests that it is not an appropriate subject for the entire class to hear, Maya urges him to try. The teacher starts, but Riley immediately cuts him off. He then spots Lucas moving down the hall to the other entrance, and races over to secure that one as well, but Lucas manages to push the door open, and slips inside before the teacher can succeed. Mr. Matthews then erases the "Belgium:1831" off the chalkboard (much to Farkle's distress, who had both worn a Belgium flag shirt and brought a miniature banner in anticipation of the interrupted lesson), and begins a meandering speech seeking to link spring fever to crushes to dating to hands meeting in popcorn to that--indicating Darby rubbing noses with her boyfriend, Yogi. As the teacher physically hauls the student back to his desk, Farkle raises his hand, and suggests a price of four oxen and his best milking cow for his daughter. Riley is astounded as her father actually appears to be mulling over the offer, which Mr. Matthews considers to be "a good deal." Riley then stands up and proclaims that she will decide who she will go out with on her first date, when and if someone sees fit to ask her. Lucas then tentatively raises his hand, and Riley then displays an excited expression on her face.
Mr. Martinez takes over the new eighth grade History class, and intends for his first lesson to be focused on the Belgium independence from the Dutch in 1831. However, he is sidetracked by Riley and Maya's excitement at a new teacher, and fails to note the significance of "Farkle Time." He informs the class he will have order in his classroom. When Riley rises up and attempts to "Boop" him on the nose, Mr. Martinez abruptly quits. Cory Matthews swiftly arrives to take over the class, informing his daughter that the situation is her fault. However, the girls are determned to leave, and despite the fact that Farkle and Lucas opt not to join them, transfer out of the class. Mr. Matthews then begins telling the class of his favorite play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. In the middle of the lesson, the humbled girls return, admitting that Cory Matthews is the best teacher for them.
As Mr. Matthews lectures on Ellis Island, and the immigrant experience of facing the new world represented by arriving in America, he fails to discern the subtext of Farkle's and Maya's questions which really concern a covert kiss shared by Riley and Lucas. When Lucas is asked about the situation, he suddenly leaps up and scrambles over desks in his hurry to leave the room.
Mr. Matthews is surprised when Farkle refuses to display any enthusiasm for learning about the indepedence of Belgium from the Dutch in 1831. As the lesson actually starts, Farkle becomes more excited, but the arrival of Zay Babineaux, and the revelation of his prior friendship with Lucas, causes an interruption. After Zay sits, the lesson continues, but Yogi, much to Farkle's frustration, asks "What is the secret of life?" As Mr. Matthews erases the chalkboard, Farkle bangs his head against his desk. When Zay hears that Lucas is considered the "moral compass" of the class, he hints that the Lucas Friar they know, is far different to the Lucas Friar he knew in Texas. The next day, Mr Matthews presents a story problem in which Al and Fred wash the same car in 6 and 8 minutes respectively--how long would it take the pair to wash the car together? Farkle comes up with a mathmatical answer, which the teacher states is wrong. He tells the class that physically acting out the problem will lead to the secret of life. When reporting the results, a humbled Farkle admits that his answer is not even close, due to the dispute between Riley and Lucas which made an accurate answer unobtainable. Mr. Matthews proclaims that the secret of life is that people change people. It is then noticed that Zay is not present, but his voice is heard calling Lucas' name. Resolutely Lucas goes to the door to help his old friend, and informs everyone that if he manages to return without being suspended, that will prove that they have changed him.
Mr. Matthews has a Winston Churchill quote written on the board, and asks his class what is history. By using the foreward to their textbook, he demonstrates how the perceptions of history can change over time. However, the example he uses, that of Pluto losing planetary classification, is a fact the "Riley Committee" (Mr. Matthews, Farkle, and Maya) have been keeping secret from Riley as she has always considered Pluto to be her favorite planet. Maya finally tells her friend the truth, and although clearly disappointed, Riley tells her father to continue. Mr. Matthews then asks the class how they will be remembered. Farkle points out a time capsule was discovered recently in Boston, and suggests creating one of their own. This reminds his teacher of a time capsule he and his own friends buried, and realizes that their prescribed time limit of 15 years to recover it, has been reached.
- Riley Matthews
- Maya Hart
- Farkle Minkus
- Sarah Carpenter
- Darby Walker
- Lucas Friar
- Missy Bradford
- Academic Halves
- Top Half
- Bottom Half
- Billy Ross
- Zay Babineaux
- Charlie Gardner
- Originally the room had a tiled floor, but since the events of Maya's sprinkler debacle, they were apparently too water damaged, and only the "original" hardwood floor has been seem since.
- The World History Textbook only appears in Girl Meets the Truth.
- Mr. Matthews has had at least three different desks.
- The pilot is filled with quick clothes changing and disappearing students.
- Farkle has placed his own nameplates underneath Mr. Matthews', "Farkle," and briefly. "Dictator Farkle," which he uses to indicate "Farkle Time.". A third plate, "Donnie Barnes: Regular Guy," appears in Girl Meets Yearbook.
- The room briefly belonged to Mr. Martinez, but reverted back to Cory after the inexperienced teacher quit.
- As of the second season, the room has been redecorated, with the Feeny quote removed.
| The image gallery for Mr. Matthews' History Classroom may be viewed here.
- See also: Mr. Matthews' History Lesson Chalkboards