School House Rock: Election Collection
My wife and I have always had a laugh when remembering a certain public service announcement we used to see when we where small children. It was animated and shown during most of the cartoon and movies we used to watch in the afternoon. The short showed a little boy and girl with their dog trying to cross the street. The tune went ‘Don’t cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle of the block’. It reminded us to go to the corner and wait until you see the light turn green. This short animation has not been on TV for well over fifty years now but we can remember every frame, every line of dialogue and even the faces of the characters as it we saw it yesterday. We might not remember things that happened yesterday but this memory is deeply embedded in our minds forever. The reason that this memory has endured for so many decades is the song. It was snappy and back then repeated fairly often. It has long be recognized that songs are one of the best mnemonic devices know to man. Some experts in the field of linguistics have postulated that one of the first uses of songs was to pass down information from one generation to another. The simple cadence and rhyming lyrics are just perfect to remember a lot of information easily. Just think back to how you recall important moments in your life and just take notice how often there is a song associated with those memories. This little fact has not gone unnoticed with educators. Teaching children songs is a fantastic way of getting children to learn and more importantly consider education enjoyable. In 1973 David McCall used this technique that would be lovingly remembered for generations. He came up with the idea of ‘School House Rock’. These were a series of short animated films that taught lessons in various school subjects. They used songs to make the lessons seem like fun to the kids and something parents would gladly watch with their kids. We are now in the middle of one of the tightest races for President that this country has seen in decades. Buena Vista has released a special election collection of the ‘School House Rock’ episodes that teach lessons in civics and the working of the government. Not only will this let the younger set in on what the grown ups are so busy talking about but many adults could most likely benefit by a refresher course.
This series ran from 1973 to 2001 and was one of the best ways to teach children their fundamental subjects. The show covered all the basics for elementary school such as multiplication, grammar, science, civics, finance and in the later years, computer science. Each three minute short got the message across with a song that was easy for the kids watching to remember. I doubt there are many out there that still don’t know the lyrics to the now famous ‘Conjunction Junction’. Another popular short that is contained here is ‘I’m Just a Bill’ about a little bill that hopes someday to go to the Capital and become a law. Some of these lessons are ones that most of learned in school so long ago but may have forgotten by now. This collection is most of the shorts from the civics set supplemented by a few from the financial section. For most of us baby boomers we were too old to be among the first audience of this series but our kids certainly watched them perhaps with us right by their side.
Usually these three minute shorts were shown between children’s shows. They took the place of a commercial or two and most kids didn’t even know they were getting an education. All they cared about was they songs were easy to learn and they might have something to do with school. It is a shame that programming like this seems to have disappeared from the tube. The three minute span of the short was perfect for the attention span of the audience. It was long enough to make the lesson’s point but not so long as to become tedious for the young mind. This is perfect timing for a collection like this. With the Presidency up fro grabs right now many of the lessons taught here are important to know. With most major school districts experiencing major cut backs in funding a lot of the fundamental subjects are being neglected. This is a DVD that will educate and entertain the whole family together. So much of the programming intended for the younger members of the family is so fluffy and light that adults can barely stand to be in the same room while it is playing. This is extremely well done, creative and the way education should be fun. Television has become the caregiver for children so you might as well give them something of quality and value. The collection is broken down into four sections with an option to play them all in order.
How Government Works
A few of these subjects are complex enough that three minutes can barely give a brief overview. Still, the subjects are presented in a clear enough fashion that even adults will benefit from the lesson. Things like the Electoral College and the stock market is a mystery to a lot of grown ups so this simple format is great to get a general overview. With women more important than ever in the coming election it is a good idea for all of us to realize that the Women’s suffrage moment was not that long ago. This is a must have DVD for every family out there. Disney has done a major service to all in releasing it.