Saturday, October 04, 2008

Scool House Rock

If you are a late-era Baby Boomer or fall in Generation X, School House Rock holds a sacred place in your heart. Saturday mornings, embodied by the Smurfs and especially Bugs Bunney-Road Runner were framed by these animated music videos that, well, made learning fun! Recently I was in Target and saw a new Election Edition of School House Rock and thought it would be fun to show some of the clips in my class on the Modern Presidency and Presidential Elections. But then I rounded a corner and my wife noticed that for $2 less I could actually get the entire School House Rock collection. Giddyup!

Talk about a trip down memory lane. "Conjunction Junction," "Noun is a Person, Place or Thing," "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here," The Adjective Song (probably my favorite -- what a melody!), and dozens of others come flooding down the memory banks. What is remarkable is how well written the songs are, how infectious the melodies, how varied the genres. We have our little godson/nephew with us for about ten days, and so this morning I got up and once the boy was up we put on the dvd to play through the whole history of School House Rock. The grammar songs are the best, the ones that really bring me back to Satruday mornings in the 1970s and early 1980s.

"Verb! That's What's Happenin'!"


Ed Schmitt said...

I always show "The Great American Melting Pot" in my Race & Ethnicity in the U.S. Since 1890 course and it makes for a great conversation starter. They are amazed to think you can contextualize a cartoon as emblematic of the "decade of ethnics" in the 1970s. Of course, thanks to Matthew Frye Jacobson, it also gives me an excuse to show "Rocky." :)

dcat said...

Ed --
Thanks for weighing in. That's a great usage of SHR. I have to admit, though, I disagree with Jacobson's depiction of the Rocky movies and said as much when I reviewed his book "Roots, Too" a little while back.

Ed Schmitt said...

Hey Derek - Yeah, I think there is much room for disagreement, but again, it is great for discussion, and a fantastic way to get at the idea that popular culture doesn't just float above "real" social history like cotton candy - that it's popular for a reason and can be revealing. What it reveals is another story...
Congrats on your book. I'm fighting like hell to get my manuscript revisions done in the next couple of weeks.

dcat said...

Thanks, Ed. Absolutely -- I use sports or other aspects of pop culture in all of my classes and try to ground them in the context of the world in which sports or whatever happens.