Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They're Gonna Turn You On

So, I'm finally back from a very long "vacation," if visiting family members counts as a vacation. Kidding aside, it was mostly good - visiting the East Coast always makes me feel at home, as indeed it *is* my home. And it's sort of sad to come back.

But I had with me a gift for turning 38 - which, I should just mention in passing, is much, MUCH better than turning 37. I highly recommend skipping 37, which was a devastatingly depressing year, and moving right to 38. Anyway, the gift was Volume 1 of The Best of The Electric Company. You remember The Electric Company, right? That psychedelic kids' show from the '70s that was on after Sesame Street and before Zoom? With Morgan Freeman (Easy Reader), Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby, Spiderman, and a host of others who still show up sometimes on Law and Order?

I think it says a lot for the quality of the show that I can watch it now and be just as enthralled as I was at 7 when I was watching it for the first time. But what really gets me is being able to watch and enjoy it along with my kid. This show is all about reading, so very often, a word will appear on the screen, and while the voiceover is repeating the word, the word itself is dancing about, doing whatever the word suggests. (For example, the word "row" actually appears to row across the screen.) After a few such scenes, my son began asking, "why is that word doing that?" And this child, who regularly tells me, "stop that, Mommy!" when I try to teach him reading skills, began to understand that words do things.

He began to get it - that words mean things, that the letters have something to say. That we can read them and know something that we didn't know before, as when the character on the screen learns which door says "out" and which one says "in," and is then able to leave the supermarket.

After just one evening of The Electric Company.

As we got ready for bed, he asked, "Mommy, where's my Leap Pad? I want to play with it tomorrow." (This is the same Leap Pad that he barely touched for the last three weeks.)

And as I tucked him into bed, he held up the book he was looking at and said, "I want to know what the words on the page say, but I can't read."

We’re gonna turn it on. We’re gonna turn it on. We’re gonna turn it on.
We’re gonna open the book,
And read every word that we see.
We’re gonna get us the power to learn about anything,
And the power’s gonna get us free.
Power’s gonna get us free.

We’re gonna turn it on.
We’re gonna bring you the power.
It’s coming down the line, strong as it can be, through the courtesy
Of the Electric Company. The Electric Company. The Electric Company.


ken said...

I love DVD technology that has allowed us to bring back our favorite childhood shows. (There's even a DVD set of the Schoolhouse Rock segments. So fascinating to re-view what I watched as a child and to see the problems with them too--like the little ditty on "elbow room" i.e. Manifest Destiny.)
Sadly I remember very little about The Electric Company other than tha logo and that it had a groovy beat. I think it left the air when I was very little. I should try to find the DVDs.

Wesleying said...

Hi, we're a couple of current Wes students who found your blog via the "boon tan" entries.

We're curious if you have any other legends of wesleyan during your time there that time has forgotten.

Out blog is at and we can be reached at


Plain(s)feminist said...

I remember in grad school watching the Schoolhouse Rock one about the "melting pot," in which all these wonderful people come from all over to form a new land. My friend sat next to me, saying, "show us how the Black people got here! Show us how the Black people got here!" Because, of course, they don't.