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Schoolhouse Rock rocks our house

July 17th, 2004 · 2 Comments

As a family this week we have been enjoying the Schoolhouse Rock DVD I borrowed from the library. The girls and I have been studying some American history and I seemed to remember something I saw on a Saturday morning between cartoons that helped me understand our country’s past. It seems I may have been mistaken: we have watched all of the history videos and haven’t found the one I thought I remembered. But we have had fun. Tonight we also saw a few of the mathematics ones which I don’t remember at all, but Ted does.

Ah, such Xers we are. I enjoyed reading the liner notes that describe how the creators of Schoolhouse Rock didn’t realize what an impact they had had on our generation until they made an appearance at Dartmouth in the early 90s, expecting to be greeted by a small group but instead discovering 900 students singing their songs!

The 3-minute videos are obvious MTV precursors and seem oh-so-seventies now, looking back. They wouldn’t pass any P.C. tests. They are dated. And simplistic.

But cute and fun. And they’ve got a good beat for dancing, as Elisabeth discovered, jiving in her jammies. Getting to see “I’m Just a Bill” again was worth the check-out. After watching the videos, Ted and I are finding ourselves explaining more to our daughters: how part of America was once owned by France, how the Supreme Court works, what comes next when counting by 5s.

There’s a certain sentimentality to Schoolhouse Rock that I think we parents both feel as we’re sharing this series with our kids. Part of it has to do with the past, being kids watching Saturday morning cartoons again (but this time together!). And part of it has to do with the present.

Last night after watching some of the cartoon clips, I told Ted that I was feeling the most patriotic I had felt in a long time, If only it was that simple, we agreed.
But there’s something to watching the story of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, even in cartoon form. To sing along with the Preamble set to a tune. We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union… To think about what it meant to create this country and to write the documents that have defined it. To consider how often the Constitution has been in the news recently and what does it mean to be an American. How our country came to be. All that has happened in the centuries since 1620 and 1776. The past that has put us in the present.

Even if the songs are a bit silly and the cartoons are out of date, I find that these juvenile videos are vehicles for truth. I’m finding I’m feeling more in love with my country. It’s reviving my romance for America. And I hope my children inherit this sentiment from this box of DVDs, Ted and me.

Tags: homeschool

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kris Hasson-Jones // Jul 20, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    Ohh, yeah. Conjunction junction, what’s your function? My hero, Zero. Verb! That’s what’s happening! We were suffering, before sufferage. I loved those things.

  • 2 David Fedor // Jul 21, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    A few years ago our kids constantly played the Schoolhouse Rock computer games, which includes some of the videos too. I never saw the series on TV while growing up (being out of the country), but my favorite one now is the one about nouns. (“You’re eating a noun”… muffled response: “I thought it was peanut butter!”)