Readers of a certain age here will remember sitting in fron of the TV on the floor on Saturday morning with a big bowl of cereal watching cartoons. Among them, Captain Caveman, The Groovie Ghoulies, Hong Kong Fooey, Laffalympics, etc. But in between these mindless cartoons, if you were watching ABC, you got a sneaky dose of education in the form of Schoolhouse Rock!
It was an ingenious way to slip in knowledge on grammar, math, history and social studies. It presented short clips on school subjects using music and animation. From Wikipedia
Schoolhouse Rock! began as a commercial advertising venture by David McCall. The idea came to McCall when he noticed one of his sons, who was having trouble in school remembering the multiplication tables, knew the lyrics to many current rock songs. The first song recorded was "Three Is a Magic Number," written by Bob Dorough. It tested well, so a children's record was compiled and released. Tom Yohe listened to the first song, and began to doodle pictures to go with the lyrics. He told McCall that the songs would make good animation.
The songs were extremely well written and produced. They were also very catchy so they would stick in your head. I know I learned to count from the Sesame Street song featuring this video:
Most of you will remember 3 Is a Magic Number from De La Soul's sample of the song from their popular 3 Feet High and Rising album from the 90's. But here's the vid that started it all off:
Other subjects dealt with grammar such as adverbs, conjunctions and interjections:
And if you can believe it, it even covered the Women's Rights movement with a song called Sufferin' Till Sufferage:
And most shocking to me, was the coverage of government. Songs about bills being tuned into laws, the electoral college(wtf?), and get this, DEBT! Yes, they actually wrote a song about the national debt!! The coverage of government processes and procedures was astounding to me considering the complexity of it all. Hell there are politicians today who could benefit from watching these videos.
There were close to 40 cartoons created for Schoolhouse Rocks between 1972 and 1980. And if you're like me, you probably know all the words to Conjunction Junction and Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here. It's a shame there isn't something like this today airing on networks on Saturday mornings. I've tuned in and while the cartoons themselves may be a bit more sophisticated, nothing comes close to the educational value of Schoolhouse Rocks. Normally I hate it when people say "It was a lot better in may day" speaking of the past, but in this case, I think it was. I don't have kids, so I'm not exposed to children's programming, but is there anything comparable to this airing today? Here's a link to more Schoolhouse Rocks Videos Enjoy the trip down memory lane :)