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The Schoolhouse Rocker : Bob Dorough educates with a song and an animated dance


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TV education

Verb and Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla really are my heroes. As a child, there wasn't a great deal of emphasis on education or reading in my family. Many of my family members were illiterate, and it wasn't expected that I would go beyond junior high school. It's not because my parents were bad people, but it was a necessity for survival that I start working as soon as possible. And reading beyond a job application wasn't a necessity.

But the basis in reading that many children get from parents reading bedtime stories, I got from series like Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street. I remember spending hours lying at the edge of my grandmother's bed, hanging upside down and absorbing letters, numbers and words from television. Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla and Big Bird were literally my first educators, and from them I got the beginnings of a life-long love of words.

How could I not love a black superhero Verb showing me "what's happenin'" or catch on to pronouns from a fellow Rufus and his pet kangaroo?

I know that today, I am a writer with a college degree because of series like Schoolhouse Rock that bring education to children who, like me, might not get it from home.

And disproving a longstanding myth, TV didn't rot my brain — it improved it.

— Rufus Coleman

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