Our bodies grow bigger, our minds grow stronger …
In honor of the Fourth of July, I thought I’d share the program that first taught me about American history — “Schoolhouse Rock!”
Conjunction Junction. Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla. Interplanet Janet. Three is a Magic Number. The Great American Melting Pot. Just who is that sad little scrap of paper sitting on the U.S. Capitol steps?
To anyone familiar with “Schoolhouse Rock!”, you’re probably seeing the images scrolling through your mind and are now humming the tunes.
The three-minute animated shorts began after advertising executive David McCall noticed his son was having trouble with math, but could recite popular rock lyrics with ease. He approached jazz pianist and vocalist Bob Dorough in 1971. He asked him to set the multiplication tables to music and history was made. Dorough ended up writing “Three’s a Magic Number” and other well known videos. He also voiced many of them.
The ground breaking program originally ran from 1973 to 1985, teaching children grammar, math, science and American history through catchy tunes. It came back for five years in the 1990s including segments on Earth and money. I fondly remember catching the songs between Saturday morning cartoons on ABC.
When I had to learn The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution in fourth grade, my mom taught me the Schoolhouse Rock version. To this day, I remember every word.
When I had Civics in junior high school, my teacher showed us “I’m Just a Bill” and “Elbow
Room.” I’m also convinced that West Virginia’s late Sen. Robert C. Byrd has a cameo.
In college, my professor in political science brought in her own Bill figurine and screened more of “America Rock.” The great thing about “Schoolhouse Rock” is that you get kids to learn, but it’d so much fun, they actually look forward to it and retain the information. “Schoolhouse Rock” sparked my love of history. I learned the chronological order of every U.S. presidents for fun and all of the amendments to the Constitution.
As a journalist, I know that Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says, he does. With the prevalence of emjoiis and grammar atrocities on social media, “Grammar Rock” should still be required viewing in classrooms. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly can tell you where to get your adverbs. More commenters would know verbs are what’s happening and the proper use of interjections!
Through memories, DVDs and YouTube, “Schoolhouse Rock” will live on forever. As Rocky so aptly proclaimed in the opening credits, “Knowledge is Power!”
If do a quick search on YouTube, there is a pretty epic playlist that will bring you straight back to Saturday mornings on your parents’ couch! What are your favorite Schoolhouse Rock moments? Share in the comment section!