Spongebob versus Scooby Doo—from 2007
The educational value of today‟s cartoons
Back in the seventies, cartoons had one purpose; entertainment. With three
networks, a local station and one public station to choose from, there was not a variety
of „toon „tainment (and Sesame Street and its ilk is not included in this analysis). Most of
the cartoons ran on Saturday mornings. The educational part came from, yes, school,
but also in between the cartoons and the commercials; notably CBS‟s “In the News” and
“Schoolhouse Rock (“I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol
Hill. Well, it's a long, long journey to the capital city. ...”).” The Schoolhouse Rock
generation is now today‟s teachers; these ditties have been revived in the classroom and
have caught on.
But, what about Scoob and the gang? Where is the educational value in those
meddling kids? Other than providing a generation of wannabe hippies with the catch
phrase “Zoinks!” and “Jinkies!” Even when solving the mystery, no analytical thinking
skills are enhanced—it‟s always some guy in a mask.
Now Spongebob Squarepants, there‟s some educational programming. On the
surface, it looks like a goofy square yellow guy with a stupid friend, but a teacher could
teach a whole oceanography lesson using this cartoon. Here are some examples of how
Spongebob and friends can illuminate a lesson:
Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward all belong to the classification of animals
Jellyfish have stingers and leave a mark if they sting a person.
Mammals, such as Sandy Cheeks the Squirrel, need to live in a habitat that has
oxygen. Mammals cannot breathe underwater.
Plankton are microscopic creatures.
Sponges reproduce by budding.
Sea animals cannot live out of water.
Starfish have five points and no toes or fingers.
Squid have ten arms called tentacles.
These facts came from a nine- and a ten-year old when asked what they learn
from Spongebob Squarepants. Is it an accident that kids learn so much from this
cartoon, since it was created by a marine biologist? Scooby Doo, on the other hand,
was created by Hanna-Barbera, who gave us such gems as the Jetsons (full of futuristic
inaccuracies—humankind is still waiting to leave the house in a tube) and the Flintstones
(full of prehistoric inaccuracies—dinosaurs did not make good house pets). However, the
kids did state that they learned the value of friendship and teamwork from watching
Scooby Doo. Zoinks! The generation of the seventies is not all lost.
Hercules Editing and Consulting
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