My 15-year old daughter will be taking AP Government in high school this year. One of the tough things about taking an AP class is doing homework before school starts in September. The other day, she was doing a worksheet about various aspects of the U.S. Constitution. I was woefully unable to offer any help, having spent my formative years in Canada. However, when she got to the section about a bill becoming a law, I perked up. Hey, I know this stuff. But only if it’s sung by a cartoon character that looks like a rolled-up piece of paper.
I’m referring Schoolhouse Rock. If you grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, you probably remember this series of animated videos. They were shown on Saturday mornings, sandwiched between cartoons like Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Superfriends, and Captain Caveman. Since my younger brother and I watched a lot of TV on Saturdays, we pretty much saw all the videos.
Whenever the familiar Schoolhouse Rock logo came on the screen, my brother and I would try to guess which video we’d get to see. As far as we could tell, there was no rhyme or reason to the schedule. We had certain favorites, like “Interplanet Janet” (now sadly out of date because it declared “Pluto, little Pluto, is the farthest planet from our sun”) or the slightly eerie “Little Twelvetoes” (which proposed a bizarre way to learn your twelve-times tables). Less endearing were the aforementioned “I’m Just a Bill” and “The Preamble,” mostly because they were shown on a constant rotation. To this day, I can still recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, but only if I sing it.
Thanks to these videos, little tidbits of American history are still lodged in my head—the 19th Amendment, the inventor of the cotton gin, and the date of the Louisiana Purchase. About five years ago, I bought the complete set of Schoolhouse Rock videos on DVD, for my own kids. We’ve pulled them out to help with multiplication tables, grammar, and U.S. history. They’re fun to watch and the tunes are really catchy. When my daughter was taking Freshman English last year, she and I both agreed that we’d love to see a new series of videos, based on required literature like Romeo & Juliet, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Odyssey.
What about you? Any favorite Schoolhouse Rock videos?