In this Stitcher Premium bonus episode, Grammar Girl delves into the history of Schoolhouse Rock! and what made it the legacy it is today.
HH: Dorough added “Schoolhouse Rock!” to his repertoire and then would make the audience join in.
AD: "Conjunction Junction" is a great audience participation song because it even has a three-part harmony which daddy would teach the audience to sing all the parts.
"Conjunction Junction" plays
HH: “Schoolhouse Rock!” extends beyond the hearts and memories of those who grew up loving it. There is a live show that licenses between 300 and 500 performances every year, for example. However, one of the most enduring ways it continues is through the throngs of teachers who still use the songs in the classroom.
Alicia Takaoka: My name is Alicia Takaoka. I am an instructor at a university in Hawaii. When I teach writing, we talk about FANBOYS and conjunctions, the use for conjunctions, so I sing a little bit of "Conjunction Junction." Then we talk about "I'm Just a Bill" when we talk about the process of how bills become laws when we talk about science policy.
HH: Alicia says only a couple students a year now know her source material, but before long, all the students start singing along and retaining the concepts taught.
HH: George Newell and Bob Dorough performed a concert at the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage in 2013. It was said to be the largest audience the venue hosted to date with over 2,000 attendees, according to Newell. Dustin Renwick, freelance journalist in DC, was one of the fans there. He, like me, had missed the “Schoolhouse Rock!” train as a kid, but the show took on a special meaning when he hit grad school,
DR: And that's kind of the reason I went to this show, was because of my grad school professor. And yeah, in class she used “Schoolhouse Rock!” I mean that was—you were going through the basic parts of speech, and it was this really catchy way not only to remember them, but learn them.
HH: Dustin wanted to give his professor a piece of the show. After the concert, he jumped in line to get his program signed by Bob Dorough to later give her as a gift.
DR: I think you could tell that he recognized that this is not just something for kids. You know, it wasn't a weird thing that there was someone there who was in his mid-to-late twenties asking for an autograph, just in the same way that he was going to sign stuff for the five-year-old behind me or, you know, the person who was ten years my senior in the back of the line. There was no sense that this was time-bound—that anybody should and could be able to appreciate this. Whether it was for the music or for the tune or for the learning lesson, that it was something that was accessible and available for all ages.
HH: And time will tell if the show continues on another 40 years. But ready or not, the effects of the show keep coming.
GG: I'm so pleased we were able to get so many people to talk to us about their experiences with “Schoolhouse Rock!” and that there are at least some people out there who love it as much as I did. Thanks again to Holly, and thank you for listening. You can find the entire back catalogue of Grammar Girl episodes on Stitcher Premium. And if you want to find the articles, essentially transcripts, to go with them, you can find most of those at quickanddirtytips.com.