Remember when kid’s TV shows were smart, funny, full of personality and didn’t make every adult want to set their TV on fire? I do. It baffles me why now a days TV programming for children is so terribly dumbed down, it’s like they see children as bumbling idiots and really want them to stay that way. Children need to be challenged, they need to have fun, and they don’t need to be talked down to. “Where is the backpack? Can you see the backpack? Where is it? Point out the backpack. Oh, there you are backpack!” Are you kidding me? Chances are, if you hate the show as an adult, then it is way too stupid for your children. Don’t treat kids like little simpletons or they will be! Now, that brings us to our topic this Throwback Thursday: Magic School Bus.
Scientific adventures full of fun, frivolity, and puns, every episode is interesting and imaginative to watch. With a cast of eight diverse and realistic kids, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Every episode, regardless of subject matter is fun to watch and will still resonate with kids today as the ‘magical’ technology used in the show won’t seem outdated and old compared to today’s iPads and flat screens.
Cartoons (in my opinion) are always a better choice for children as they boost creativity and imagination, and are generally more fun to watch. Think about all those shows with young Disney stars on TV nowadays; shows about kids in middle school cracking bad jokes with laugh tracks; dealing with problems like ‘does he like me?’ and ‘oh no the school talent show is soon good thing I already have a record deal’. Now, you may think the worst these kinds of shows are doing is teaching your children nothing – but you’re wrong. It’s teaching them a whole lot, but none of it is making them any smarter or independent at all. Can you stand to watch those shows? Probably not. So you shouldn’t force your kids to either. And I know you’re thinking, ‘no, my kids love it, they never turn it off!’ and you don’t want to keep your kids away from something they really like. But they’d really like heroin too, if they tried it. You’re constantly looking out for your child, that’s all you do, but don’t forget to pay close attention to what they pay close attention to. When I was working at the daycare I loved every single one of my kids, even the troublemakers, because they were all really smart and interesting. And you know what they loved to do all day, besides drawing with me and being active? Watching shows that weren’t so dumbed down their eyes glazed over when they watched it. There was no Dora The Explorer in my daycare, no iCarly. We watched Scooby Doo or Pixar films. Fun for all ages = clever enough for all ages. And what’s the harm in being able to enjoy what your child is watching with them? You are your child’s favourite person. Don’t usher them into replacing that with some teenybopper celebrity who has nothing to offer them intellectually, artistically, or inspirationally.
That brings us to the next best part of Magic School Bus. Ms. Frizzle!
Valerie Frizzle is a magical, wonderful, exciting, and entirely fictional teacher. But that’s the beauty of the character. Not only is she a joy to watch in the cartoon show, but kids who love her will learn to see more of her in their own teachers at school. Magic School Bus makes it easier for kids to see school as an important part of their life (and a fun one) and teachers as dependable, unique people who are there to aide, inspire, and enlighten them while they are there. This show also helps children to realize why they go to school – which is to learn, of course – rather than to socialize and trade beanie babies at recess (I know they don’t do that anymore, guess I just dated myself big time). And who could forget The Frizz’s loyal pet and class mascot, Liz! Really, not a single aspect of this show is boring from the theme song to the lizard bouncing around in the classroom. Not only does this show have 52 unique episodes (that you can watch over and over and still learn something new every time) but there are also picture books for the younger children and really awesome PC games for the older more technologically focused ones. And for the delightfully skeptical youngsters, at the end of every episode there is a cartoon ‘Q & A’ with the producer, where a clever kid calls in and points out all the things they forgot to mention in that episode, or the fact that the bus couldn’t possibly shrink down to that size. So after learning about all the planets in our solar system, the children will also be reminded to question everything and find out more themselves!
Magic School Bus really is a gem, but it’s not the only one. Stay tuned for future Throwback Thursday articles featuring other fabulously entertaining and educational shows for kids and adults alike.