By Janet Blatter
I met with Linda Simensky, the Vice-President for Children’s Programming at PBS. We had strawberries and tea as she graciously shared her 20-years experience on the international scene in public broadcasting, what produced locally stays local and what gets to go international. (More about that later). But things got ugly when I asked her to define “edutainment”. Here was her response:
“Never use the term edutainment. I hate the term and will hate the person using it! Anybody using that term shows contempt for kids. They think that stuff that’s educational has to be snuck into the program or kids won’t like it. I believe that most 2-8 year olds [PBS’s pre-K science market] are psychologically eager to learn, that our programming [on PBS] should be a role model on being passionate about learning new things. It’s aimed at kids who can’t wait to tell her friends about this new thing they learnt, who can’t sit through a family dinner without telling his family what he’s just discovered. Every kid wants to share something new they learnt, and every kid is a natural explorer”.
I think she nailed it... and not just for kids. It’s like saying you can’t be beautiful and smart at the same time. Or that you can’t chuckle and do abstract reasoning at the same time. This is so wrong on so many levels...uh, oh, I’m about to throw something...
Janet Blatter is a development consultant, currently writing a book (with Mik Casey) on storyboarding for MWP. She has the dubious distinction of having a PhD in cognitive science specializing in how animators solve problems, think about time and space... Dr. J thinks she has the coolest research gig on earth.