You know how you can tell if someone is Gen X? Ask them if they know the preamble to the Constitution – and if they sing it, you’ll know. That is the continued residual return on a much beloved segment that would pop up between Saturday morning cartoons called “Schoolhouse Rock.” Although conjunctions WERE my function and the shouting girl in “Interjection!” seemed to be possibly based on me, I really latched onto the History Rock segments. Most hold up – “Sufferin’ for Suffrage” is still amazing in its sisterhood-celebratory bell bottomed-glory. When I taught a community college course in which 50% of my students were not citizens, “I’m Just a Bill” was such an effective way to teach our legislative process.
Like many parents, my sons are attending middle and high school virtually this year. For years, I have struggled with implementing, enforcing, backsliding and starting all over again on screen time limits and enforcement. The irony of setting up multiple monitors in their bedrooms – where devices have been off-limits for 15 years – isn’t lost on me. I worry about how my kids will learn remotely – how does AP Chemistry work via Teams, is one example.
But then I hum the Preamble, and realize we have all learned from screens for a long time.
Associations had this “back to school” anxiety already, and we have worked to transition so much content and experiences into a digital environment. We saw “Zoom fatigue” happen fairly quickly, and I believe we are all working to create new models. Is there an opportunity to leverage things like music or animation within our professional development opportunities? After all, the Schoolhouse Rock episodes are a great example of the impact of microlearning – should be get out of our 50-60 minute box and focus on shorter, engaging and delightful teaching opportunities?
These are things we are exploring with some of our nonprofit client partners – and I think it offers a new opportunity to our community subject matter experts to break out from the home office-chat-PowerPoint into some new formats. I just did a series of short segments on key areas that organizations are changing while cooking, as an MCI USA-example, which will be available on our website soon.
We all should welcome opportunities to experiment – after all, in an era where film is cheap and expectations around production values have dropped during Covid, the financial risk is relatively low.
I can tell you that if done well, these things have staying power. As I drove to the beach in Maine a few weeks ago, we stopped behind a bus at a railroad crossing and my younger son remarked “that’s the law from Schoolhouse Rock.” That segment is 45 years old. Let’s all try to create something that sticky teach the communities we serve.
Erin Fuller is the president of association solutions at MCI USA, and sings the song “50 Nifty United States” at least once a year to remember all states in alpha order; it may be the most valuable thing she ever learned.
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