Maps for Kids on TV

By Christian Bittner

I just stumbled upon this hilarious Animaniacs song in which all the countries of the world  are being listed. It’s not exactly up to date though („and germany now one piece“[0:36]).

The next one  – again Animaniacs – teaches us all the states of the US, including their capitols, and additional regional information („Elvis used to hang out a lot in Nashville, Tennessee“[0:56]).

Of course the Sesame Street produced a map song too. Here we learn something about the navigational function of a map. Sorry for the crappy quality of the video, it was the only version I could find.

Here is another scene of Sesame Street – no song this time. Grover gets very enthusiastic about South America.

What wee can learn from these videos is not only how maps function as a tool to teach and thereby reproduce geographical knowledge and social order (who would ever doubt the global system of nation states after learning Yakko’s wonderful song by heart?). Furthermore these clips demonstrate how maps are being perceived as mirrors of reality: I show you a map of a place and you can see what is there (the Animaniac-songs). You search something on a map, you navigate there and – pop – it shoots out of the ground, just as the map had predicted (Sesame Street Map Song). And if reality dares to contradict the map, we often tend to blame not the map, but the actual place (e.g. „the bus stop has to be here, look at the map!“) This confusion of maps and the ‚real‘ world is wonderfully criticized at the end of the last video, when Gover sais: „Do not feel bad sir [for missing the plane to South America]. You can still look at the map“

If anyone knows similar videos, please share the link!

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Über Christian Bittner

I'm a PhD Candidate at the institute of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. The subject of my thesis is "Web 2.0 mapping in Israel/Palestine", which is at the intersection of my research interests: Political Geography, Critical Cartography, GIS and the Geoweb. You'll find my 'official' academic profile here
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2 Antworten zu Maps for Kids on TV

  1. WS schreibt:

    Well, there’s a nice old Soviet animated film, to be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5naK8tqUUw . Unfortunately, it’s a bit lengthy and without subtitles. The story goes as such: in the Tretyakov Gallery we find a famous painting (for the original lookee here: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9E%D0%BF%D1%8F%D1%82%D1%8C_%D0%B4%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B9%D0%BA%D0%B0%3F) showing a schoolboy who, once again, came home with a very bad grade, much to the sadness of his family. Back to the cartoon, the small red-haired journalist (named Murzilka) goes to the gallery to investigate the reason for the bad grade — in… geography. The schoolboy insists that he knows the subject very well, but when asked to show the Equator (10:35) he points to the North Pole. Murzlika then takes him there (12:00). On the way, they make aquaintance with the uncle Gulf stream! Once arrived in the fr North, the boy can’t enjoy swimming and sunbathing, as imagined, and after a while has to admit that he was wrong. Back home, he promises to learn geography better.
    The picture is from 1952, the animated film from 1957. They possibly (but I’m far from sure) take up Samuil Marshak’s 1941 not less famous poem „About one schoolboy and six F“ — that is, six time the worst grade (look here http://kid-book-museum.livejournal.com/88546.html, page 14). One of the bad marks is due to the schoolboy’s lack of knowledge in geography: he can’s locate Kanin’s Nose at the White Sea coast and points to his own ans his comrade’s noses instead and is then plagued by ferocious nightmares.
    Both works understand geography in an oldschool way as the science of locating places on a map — the same way as the Animaniacs do. Praise Sesame street!

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