Oct 1

Everything is Educational

.

EVERYTHING IS EDUCATIONAL

There are children’s shows out there that set out purely to entertain. There are shows out there that aim to educate. There are shows out there that try to do both. Those shows gave us one of the most hideous words in the English language – edutainment.

Well I just don’t like it when they put two words together like that. A personal bugbear perhaps but it stinks of boardroom. Suits. People with graphs and powerpoint. Synergy. Not people who make children smile.

Sure, children can learn while they have fun. But I just don’t buy that any child was ever edutained.

Some shows aim to educate, others don’t. But both parents and programme makers need to realise one very important thing -

.

Everything is educational.

Everything.

Children learn at a phenomenal rate. They are processing levels of information that would baffle most adults. They aren’t only learning when you choose to teach them.

Everything a child hears or sees goes to contribute towards their world view. Forms part of their outlook on life. Shapes who they are.

Everything is educational.

.

THE PROBLEM

The problem is, when programme makers are not actively trying to educate, when we’re just going for the fun factor, we are turning control of what your audience learns from a show over to chance, fates, gods, whatever. Children will come away with something they didn’t have before, but we don’t know what that will be.

And, knowing our luck, it won’t be good.

.

PARENTS ALREADY KNOW THIS

Children can overhear a half-hour conversation and the only thing they’ll come away with is the swear word. I’ve taught my own girls quite a few. Often, watching a television show where the writer has milked the drama of a sorrowful moment only to have it replaced by a joyous victory, the child will only remember the sorrow. That story where the big scary troll turns out to be nice after all? You can bet you’re going to be hearing about that ‘naughty troll’ afterwards.

Sesame Street had to retire Kermit’s song, ‘Being Green’, because research showed that many children missed that he was actually fine with being green at the end. They all got that he was unhappy.

.

Everything is educational.

.

But trying to figure out just what we’re teaching them is a nightmare. That is why it’s important for parents to be sure about what your children are watching. I know it’s not always possible but try to watch shows with them when you can. And programme-makers, writers, animators – the responsibility we take on when creating content for children should never be taken lightly. Unlike the parents, we can’t say who will be watching our shows, when, where or under what conditions. But children will take something away with them.

Let’s make it something good. But call it something other than edutainment.

Download article as PDF

One thought on “Everything is Educational

  1. ??????

    Today, I went to the beach front with my children.

    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
    placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>