If you grew up in the 1970s, or even the 80s, and had a TV within your reach, you no doubt learned a thing or two from some of your Saturday morning viewings. That is, at least, if you were lucky enough to catch a few fleeting episodes of Schoolhouse Rock. These were animated educational shorts exploring the subjects of science, grammar, history, and multiplication (as well as other subjects) that ran between episodes of Hong Kong Phooey and Captain Caveman. As skeptical as we may all be about educational fare on a major TV network (in this case it was ABC) these little 3-minute ditties were exceptional, both in content and production value. If it weren’t for Schoolhouse Rock, a whole generation may not have such a firm grasp on their times tables, parts of speech, and the meaning of U.S. Constitution.
This year, us nostalgic Gen-Xers are remembering 40 years of Schoolhouse Rock (the episodes ran from 1973 to 1985 and thirty-seven episodes were recorded and produced between 1972 and 1980) and all that it had to offer us. Sure it is television, and cartoon television for that matter, but the producers of Schoolhouse Rock were able to locate that sweet spot between learning and musical fun and do it with flair. The idea was born out of frustration that children were able to learn the lyrics to pop songs, but not their multiplication tables. An advertising executive contracted out a song that would help his sons learn multiplication, which then turned to an animated song, which birthed over a decade of Schoolhouse Rock. And it all began with the following beloved song, “3 is a Magic Number”
How did you benefit from Schoolhouse Rock? Were you a fan, or did you find them dull? What were some of your favorites and were their any lasting lessons that followed you into adulthood?