Curricular Goals, Music and Pacing: The Case Study for Hip Hop Music in Children's Educational Television

By Murray, Creshema R.; Nichols, Cynthia | The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Curricular Goals, Music and Pacing: The Case Study for Hip Hop Music in Children's Educational Television


Murray, Creshema R., Nichols, Cynthia, The Journal of Hip Hop Studies


There is little debate that television is a vehicle for a variety of messages and that children, in some form, can and are learning from television viewing1. However, what children learn, and whether it evokes positive or negative reactions or effects, is up for debate. When reading about the role of television in young children's lives, a multitude of literature exists that condemns television for young children due to the potential negative effects2. However, many scholars believe that television can be beneficial to children, and not enough research has focused on the benefits of educational television3. Shalom Fisch4 states, "Far less attention has been paid to the positive effects that educational television programs can hold." If television is indeed a medium through which children learn violence or persuaded to act and think differently,5 then this same medium can also be used to encourage mental development and engage children in educational lessons.

Since children are exposed to an array of mass media every day, many parents are cautious about the kind of media their children are subjected to and often screen their children's exposure. Unfortunately, not everything that is popular with kids is beneficial for them, nor can parents control every aspect of their child's mediated environment. This can result in a battle of wills between what the parents deem appropriate, and what children deem acceptable6. For example, in 2012, the most popular program for children ages 6-11 was American Idol7-a program that, although extremely popular, does not necessarily have any educational benefits or provide kid-friendly music. Viewers of all ages enjoyed the program, however, American Idol's intended audience was young children and no curricular lessons were present.

Children are very perceptive, keen to popular music, media, and culture that they have been inundated with throughout their daily lives. Because of this, they desire and ask for the same trends and music that adults do-just put on some Beyoncé music in a group of kids and watch what happens8. Children learn from their environment and take cues from older family members to help them cue in to what they find enjoyable, fun, and cool. Educational programs must be developed to not only entertain children and use references from their environment, but to also teach them valuable life lessons. These educational programs, also known as edutainment, are not just curricular-based entertainment for kids, but they are also extremely profitable for the television industry.9 New shows and products are constantly being developed, licensed, and promoted in an effort to vie for market share in a multi-billion dollar industry.10

Children's Television Programming

For young children, television is as an educational tool that can teach them essential social, cognitive, and affective cues that they will eventually need to develop11. Whether it is a violent crime drama or a cartoon, kids will learn from the information presented on the screen. As former FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson aptly noted, "All television is educational. The only question is: what does it teach?"12 Even though there are numerous critics that report that television is not educational in a positive way for children,13 because it hampers children play14 and could lead to violence,15 there is a vast amount of evidence that shows educational television is beneficial to youth, specifically at-risk ones.16 Therefore, it is essential to create television programs that not only teach essential social cues, but also constructs identity for children and engages them in educational discourse.17 Educational programs in children's television host content that involves actions, ideas, character portrayals, and models that can help children develop pro-social behavior as well as problem-solving skills.18 In environments with low parental interaction or socioeconomic status, the use of television as an educational tool, provides children with exposure to new experiences that may not otherwise be readily available. …

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