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Jessi

Very interesting observation...I've never thought about it, but now reading your thoughts, I absolutely agree. Education (while I value it and think it's vital - obviously) seems like it has been elevated above all else in our culture. And the reality is, education without character creates individuals that are sadly lacking.

Kate

I think you're right about educational TV being at an all time high. And I can think of two reasons why. First, college has become an absolute expectation for most entry level professional jobs, and parents have become increasingly more concerned about their children's preparation (at what once would have been considered a ludicrous age). The stress of getting kids into a "good preschool" is something that our parents didn't really lose sleep over... Secondly - I think we're just seeing a peak in a current trend. The Baby Einstein phenomenon is a fairly recent development in educational TV and producers just picked up on that. The result has been a saturation of educational programming for toddlers and preschcol age kids - with producers trying to come up with the next Dora the Explorer. Bottom line - it's where the money is right now.

That being said, there are still a lot of popular cartoons out there that teach morals and manners (Little Bear, Little Bill, Oswald, Curious George), and also many that encourage the use of imagination (Backyardigans, and tons of other Noggin shows with names I can't remember). So the bad behavior on the playground is probably resulting from something other than a lack of Mr. Rogers. In fact, I remember quite a bit of nastiness on the playground when I was growing up. I don't think we'll ever get away from that (I have to agree with Darwin there).

What we do see a lot less of is the bloodthirsty violence of Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, and other early cartoons of that time. I have mixed feelings about that since I have a bit of nostalgia for them. They also familiarized most of us with classical music (a role that Baby Einstein has taken on - and it's very possible that Julie Clark came up with her idea while watching Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny). Nostalgia aside - I have of yet to buy any Looney Tunes DVDs. Their fading popularity is probably just as well.

Tricia

Oh I love Little Bear and Curious George! And that's interesting (and I agree) about Looney Tunes and such - although as a music teacher, I must also agree that they were really amazing at introducing children to great classical music. I started my musical career in the 4th grade and found along the way that I was already so familiar with the melodies of many pieces of music. To this day I can sing the entire melody of 1812 Overture - and it's not because I studied music, it's because I watched Looney Tunes :)

Jessi

Another thought that I had after reading the comments is that, while PBS offers a pretty good mix of both highly educational shows (Word World, Super Wy, etc. as well as Curious George & Arthur)another channel that we get (and we don't have cable) is Qubo, which now that I'm thinking about it has shows that much more focus on relational and character lessons, and generally seem wholesome, including Thomas, Babar, Jane & the Dragon, and many others - even some Veggie Tales (I was impressed to find that).

lisandrea Wentland

Wow, is that insightful!! Very, very interesting.

My observation: totally engrossing value placed on intellect everywhere I go. A mad dash for the brains!! Waiting lists for the best...PREschools. If any child is expected to do anything today, it is SUCCEED in academics. Yes, I agree with you. See little emphasis on character (one reason we homeschool...?)

HOWEVER, when it comes to cartoons, all I can think of is the ridiculous, (like Spong Bob), and how I abhor them. We keep our TV unplugged from any signal that doesn't come from the DVD player, so I'm a bit out-of-the-loop on most of what you are all discussing (Qubo: news to me!).

Jenna

Golly, I just had to respond to this post! When Liam was born, we got a few Baby Einstein DVDs, but to be honest, I'm very wary of them, and I can't really say why. I know that probably sounds weird, but I'm just not all that antsy to pop one in the old DVD player for him.
I will freely admit that I am a terribly nostalgic person, and I have very fond memories of Sesame Street, Pinwheel, The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact. But nothing will ever compare to The Muppets, and I've already told my husband that we're going to invest in the Muppet Show on DVD so our kids can enjoy them too. I think a little humor goes a long way, and looking back, I did love the morals that those shows taught.
And, just to prove what an absolute geek I am, I went looking for "A Muppet Christmas" - the one where the Muppets get stranded in a snowstorm at Fozzy Bear's Mom's house, and the Sesame Street gang joins them, and the Swedish chef tries to cook Big Bird for the meal (and there were Fraggles too!) - on DVD at Amazon. I found a few copies. Guess how much they were going for? $200 a pop! Don't worry, I didn't buy it. I'm nostalgic, but not THAT nostalgic.

Tricia

I love the Muppets too! My favorite show as a kid (other than Sesame Street) was Fraggle Rock (also Jim Henson). I can still sing the entire theme song and remember watching it with my parents at 8pm Sunday evenings on HBO.

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