Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How I Really Learned So Much...

I loved school. Granted, I still have nightmares that although I'm a college graduate with a full time job I have to go back to high school. Actually, I've been told that sometimes those nightmares never go away, which I am not looking forward to. But I digress. As much as I loved school and learning there's really one place where I, and I think others of my generation, learned the most: television, especially cartoons.

I remember playing Scrabble with my older cousins and I used the word "kin" which I had learned from an episode of Garfield and my cousin actually told me it wasn't a word, would not get out the dictionary, and made me take my points back. Seriously! That's burdened me ever since I was 8 years old. I feel a little better getting that off my chest.

Anyway, cartoons seem to parody a lot of other shows, movies, and books so they are actually great learning tools. Where did I first learn Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven?

How did I remember the states and capitals? Animaniacs:

Even in college I used Animaniacs to help me study. I would sing the presidents song when I was trying to remember something in history class (I still sing it when I'm watching Jeopardy! although it is a little bit outdated since it sends with President Clinton) and I used the parts of the brain song to, well, help me remember the parts of the brain!

Of course some cartoons were meant to make us learn like School House Rock! Those cartoons are still great, too. I love the song about Congress and about conjunctions, but I think it's fascinating how much children (and adults) can learn from programs made for sheer entertainment. I do wonder, what are the creators thinking? Are they thinking maybe their audience will take a little piece of knowledge with them after watching and episode or are they merely concerned with whether or not the audience will be entertained?

I have always said that English majors probably know the most useless junk and would excel on Jeopardy! but now I am starting to think that some of the useless knowledge in my noggin is actually up there because of my wonderful friend, television. Thanks, cartoons!