Remember Schoolhouse Rock? Those cartoons that taught you about electricity and conjunctions with really catchy musical numbers? They were cheesy and educational and great. To this day the only reason I know every word of the preamble to the United States Constitution is because of Schoolhouse Rock. It was a great learning tool. They had songs that taught everything from grammar to US government to anatomy. If you don’t recall, this may jog your memory.
Now, along with help in on my multiplication tables, I learned a lot more from Schoolhouse Rock than was probably intended. Here are a few of the extra lessons I picked up at my favorite schoolhouse.
1. Feminism is important. (Sufferin’ for Suffrage)
I remember being seriously pissed when I saw this and found out for the first time that some people actually thought that women were inferior to men. I even asked my mom if there was really a time when women weren’t able to vote. I couldn’t believe it. 6-year-old-me knew that I was just as good as my brothers. There was no way I was going wash dishes and make mashed potatoes for unappreciative men who wouldn’t give me respect. I know we still have a ways to go from the 19th Amendment, but we have made progress, and this song celebrates it, opening the eyes of young children that sexism exists and can be fixed.
2. History is written by the victors. (Shot Heard Round the World)
In this they make the “redcoats” out to be these big scary bullies. After seeing this, I was so afraid of the British that my brothers actually teased me by telling me that evil British men lived in my closet instead of monsters. (Which, granted, is scary, but for a completely different reason.) Later, after actually taking American History courses, I learned it was much more complex, definitely not a good side vs. bad side situation. But, that’s how it is often taught, because history is written by the victors. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great way to teach young kids the very basics of the American Revolution, but hopefully American History classes in schools can fill in the missing holes from the British side. (Side question: Do UK schools even mention the American Revolution?)
3. Change takes a long time (I’m Just a Bill)
Whether you are trying to change society by fighting for improvements in government or trying to change an aspect of yourself…it takes a long time. Try patience.
4. Being a grown-up sucks. (Where the Money Goes)
I genuinely think this is a factor as to why I don’t want to grow up (Yes, I may be technically 21, but lets be honest I am writing about Schoolhouse Rock. My denial is hitting a new low). Essentially this kid is bummed he can’t go on a band trip because it’s too expensive, and so his father decides to show him all of bills he has to take care of instead. It’s depressing. Being an adult is synonymous with making responsible decisions, e.g. paying bills, over self-gratification, e.g. fun.
5. Sometimes you need some space (Elbow Room)
The first lines of this song are “One thing you will discover when you get next to one another is everybody needs some elbow room.” This worked out for America in the early 19th century with the Louisiana Purchase, but this really is something to keep in mind all the time. When overwhelmed or upset, being able to calm down is important, and it is hard to do that when you’re being crowded. Spend some time for yourself away from everyone else, and listen to your own thoughts for a change. Elbow room.
6. Grammar may be boring, but it’s important (Every Grammar Rock Song)
I hated Grammar Rock. Okay, well hate is a strong word. However, my mother bought every single VHS of Schoolhouse Rock, and every single time I got to choose the video, I’d choose America Rock. Why? Because, I like history. It’s cool and interesting by nature. With grammar, even the geniuses behind Schoolhouse Rock struggled to make nouns, verbs, and sentence structure fascinating. However, it is important, crucial even. Not knowing how to “hook up words and phrases and clauses” properly leads to train wrecks.