Schoolhouse Rocks! Or How Your Kids Can Learn More History Than The Average Adult Knows In 3 Minutes

In a fit of nostalgia, I picked up "America Rock" --a free rental at our local purveyor of quality video entertainments. In the '70s, in between The Justice League of America and Spiderman cartoons, kids were treated to 3-minute public service announcements about civics, grammar and math. If you're old enough, you certainly remember the Leon Redbone-like "I'm Just A Bill," explaining how laws are made.
The America Rock songs are gems. There's one on the Founding done in a Joan Baez-y soprano, one on the Declaration, and my personal favorite, "The Shot Heard Round the World," which is a 3-minute mnemonic device for remembering the major battles and military figures of the Revolutionary War.
Also of interest to me was "The Great American Melting Pot." In the era of "diversity," no one ever talks about "the melting pot" anymore --the criticism being that people should be "themselves," not forced into some white-bread mongrel culture. What's interesting about the song is that it emphasizes gratitude to the various immigrant waves that built America and appreciation for people keeping their own languages and customs alive. The song ends encouraging kids to ask their grandmas what tales they have to tell, and they'll tell the kids how great it is to be American. . . and something else as well. On screen, a little girl approaches a grandma in a rocking chair who waves an American flag --and when she lifts up her knitting, you see she's also wearing a "Kiss me, I'm Polish" button.
Those clever songs were done in 1973. So as late as that, we were still teaching people the fundamentals of civics and a wholesome appreciation of America. We should bring them back. Or re-do them in rap versions if that's what will get kids singing them. And make our elected representatives and pundits watch, too.