Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Schoolhouse Rock!, created by David McCall: a Video Shorts Review

Synopsis:

A series of Educational Children’s Shorts that were mostly written in the 1970s and played on children’s television in between cartoons and other family programs to help to teach abstract or difficult concepts in bite sized songs that could and would carry through with them until adulthood.  The Compilations are as follows with their subject in italics after the song title:

Multiplication Rock:

  1. Elementary, My Dear – multiplying by 2
  2. Three Is a Magic Number – multiplying by 3
  3. The Four-Legged Zoo – multiplying by 4
  4. Ready or Not, Here I Come – multiplying by 5
  5. I Got Six – multiplying by 6
  6. Lucky Seven Sampson – multiplying by 7
  7. Figure Eight – multiplying by 8
  8. Naughty Number Nine – multiplying by 9
  9. My Hero, Zero — multiplying by 10
  10. The Good Eleven – multiplying by 11
  11. Little Twelvetoes – multiplying by 12

Grammar Rock:

  1. A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing – what is a noun?
  2. Verb: That’s What’s Happening – the function of verbs
  3. Conjunction Junction – how conjunctions work
  4. Interjections! – using interjections in sentences!
  5. Unpack Your Adjectives – what does an adjective effect?
  6. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here – how do you use adverbs?
  7. Rufus Xavier Sarsparilla – utilizing pronouns to shorten sentences
  8. Busy Prepositions – what is a preposition and what does it do?
  9. The Tale of Mr. Morton – subjects and their predicates

America Rock:

  1. No More Kings – the story of American Independence
  2. The Shot Heard Around the World – the start to the American Revolutionary War
  3. The Preamble – the first part of the American Constitution
  4. Sufferin’ ‘till Suffrage – the Women’s Suffrage Movement!
  5. I’m Just a Bill – how does a bill become a law?
  6. The Great American Melting Pot – Immigration and how wonderful it is for America
  7. Elbow Room – the Territorial evolution of the US
  8. Fireworks – how the Declaration of Independence came to fruition
  9. Mother Necessity – the story of inventions and inventing
  10. Three Ring Government – what the branches of American Government do
  11. I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College – how the Electoral College works
  12. Presidential Minute (The Campaign Trail) – Voting for the President

Science Rock:

  1. Victim of Gravity – how gravity works
  2. Interplanet Janet – the solar system and plants
  3. The Body Machine – how the digestive system works
  4. Do the Circulation – body circulation
  5. The Energy Blues – conserving energy
  6. The Not-So-Dry Bones – how your skeletal system works
  7. Electricity, Electricity – all about electricity
  8. Telegraph Line – what does your nervous system do
  9. The Greatest Show on Earth (The Weather Show) – WEATHER!

Money Rock:

  1. Dollars and Sense – how interest and loans
  2. Tax Man Max – taxes
  3. Where the Money Goes – family budget, bills, and expenses
  4. $7.50 Once a Week – personal budgeting
  5. Tyrannosaurus Debt – budget deficit and the US National Debt
  6. This for That – Bartering and the history of currency
  7. Walkin’ on Wall Street – how the stock exchange
  8. The Check’s in the Mail – how to use checks

Earth Rock:

  1. Report from the North Pole – what is Climate Change?
  2. The Little Things We Do – Global Energy conservation
  3. The Trash Can Band – how Recycling works
  4. You Ought Be Savin’ Water – Global water conservation
  5. The Rainforest – all about the rainforests
  6. Save the Ocean – global Ocean conservation
  7. Fat Cat Blue: The Clean Rivers Song – marine debris and how to help
  8. A Tiny Urban Zoo – gardening!
  9. Solar Power to the People – solar energy
  10. Windy and the Windmills – wind energy
  11. Don’t Be a Carbon Sasquatch – reducing carbon footprints
  12. The 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

General Information:

-Genre: Educational Music Videos

-Creator: David McCall

-Length: vary in length…no more than 5 minutes each with most clocking in at around the 3 minute mark

-Rating: TV-E (children’s educational songs mostly from the 1970s so there are a few clips with a cat smoking or other “questionable” materials…)

-Where to Watch: Disney+ (with subscription), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Page of Reference in RP1: 63

Review (contains spoilers):

Multiplication Rock:

I grew up listening to this CD and watching the songs when they were on TV between cartoons on Saturday mornings.  To this day I still can’t do some of my multiplication tables without singing some of the songs.  They are incredibly effective. 

The music is catchy and easy for kids to understand.  The tunes stick in your head years later.  They teach the concepts quickly and in ways that are memorable which is what good educational programming should do.

Grammar Rock:

Just like with Multiplication Rock, I grew up listening to these on CD.  I love how they took more complicated concepts like conjunctions and predicates (which as an adult I still don’t always remember how they work… I just know they do) and made them easy for kids to learn and use.  Like all of the other Schoolhouse Rock! songs, these are incredibly catchy and memorable.  They do a great job with all of the difficult concepts for kids to learn!  And who doesn’t need better grammar these days?

America Rock:

This is a series that I know I saw in bits and pieces as a kid but don’t know by heart the way I know multiplication rock and grammar rock.  The songs are quite decent in this series but do tend to gloss over some of the more difficult moments in history (like the Louisiana Purchase going smoothly and totally not stealing the land from Indigenous people….ugh) but I think the general concepts are pretty decent.

There are a few songs I really love like The Preamble which got me out of a few tests and a LOT of bonus points in government classes through the years, and The Great American Melting Pot because we should hold the idea that we welcome all immigrants to our land.

Overall, this isn’t my favorite of the Schoolhouse Rock! series.

Science Rock:

I didn’t grow up with these.  I discovered them later in life when I bought the 30th anniversary DVD release.  These ones would have been so helpful in school, but I still love them now as an adult.  From the 1950s sock hop rock to the wonderful Interplanet Janet and her catchy ride through the stars it is hard to get upset with these ones.  Really fun renditions of proven scientific theories like gravity, how your body works and how to conserve energy…even the weather.  They are like 3-minute Magic Schoolbus Episodes.  And that is awesome.

Money Rock:

I am looking for the videos of all of these to do a proper review… this will be updated.

Earth Rock:

I am looking for the videos of all of these to do a proper review….this will be updated.

Final thoughts:

Overall, I highly recommend this series to people with kids. There are some questionable moments because it was made mostly in the 1970s and some of what is deemed “acceptable” is different now but none of it really felt troubling or damaging upon re-watch.  Definitely be willing to talk to your kids about why some of the things they animate aren’t ok (the man chasing the woman during “pursuit of happiness” in Fireworks comes to mind).

I love that the music styles and animation styles change for nearly every song.  It makes all of them so distinct and more difficult to mix up when you are trying to recall the information they were talking about and teaching.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One thought on “Schoolhouse Rock!, created by David McCall: a Video Shorts Review

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