11 Jan 2021
We grew up watching animated television series as children. Usually, they were fun and delightful! Often, they would even teach us something we’ll remember for life, like what happens to our tonsils when they are sore. I would always remember them in animated form, since that’s where I first learned about them; as Ms Frizzle and her students showed us around and taught us information about our bodies, with their 'Magic School Bus'…
But, I would also sometimes think that mice and cats have secret lives they live behind our backs, so when I first saw a mouse outside my house, we stared into each other's eyes for a long time before I begun to scream. Thank Tom & Jerry for my brief moment of bravery and for saving the mouse’s life, before the adults came.
The point is, that many children spend their free time after school or on grey Sunday mornings, watching animated television shows and being impacted by them, in small and grand ways. When children’s animated series have an educational character, they can do so much for a child’s education and personal development. There are many reasons for that…
Animation is full of colours and clean, beautiful designs that grab a child's (or an adult’s) attention and draws them into the story. They are exciting and energetic, inspiring the child’s voluntary interest for whatever they have to say or show.
Characters and behaviours
A key element in animated series, and in any work of fiction, really, are the characters. Most works of fiction, after all, are distinguishable because of their protagonists: Pinocchio and his tendency to lie, our friends Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones! These characters are written and animated to feel real but exciting, to feel like friends, people we know, and sometimes, even reflect ourselves! All characters have their strengths, their ‘superpowers’ but also their weaknesses and fears and children can identify with them. They aspire to experience their adventures but also to have their knowledge! They grow to love the characters, look forward to seeing them and to listening to whatever they have to say and watch however they choose to save the world on any given day. This gives characters a benevolent power, and turns them into peer-teachers almost, that can be used to teach children, not only educational facts and information, but also behaviour, how society works, how to care for their fellow human beings, how to deal with difficult situations but also how to learn from mistakes. We all make mistakes, as do our heroes and most characters in children’s animation, but they learn their lesson and bounce back triumphant.
It’s just fun! So it’s easy to learn!
That’s right, animation just simply makes learning fun! As information is blended into an exciting narrative, with sympathetic characters as protagonists who guide us along the way, learning becomes organic and seamless. Lessons are so easy to understand because they are presented visually; they are ingrained in children’s memories as exciting colourful images. To add to the effect, the lessons are also connected with good memories of laughter or excitement. When a child is then to recall said memory of a lesson, the memory is vivid and strong in their minds, making their understanding of it evolve naturally, while stimulating their cognitive development but also the development of their emotional intelligence.
This is our great goal and cause at Zedem, with the creation of our first ever animated series ‘The Makers’! We wanted to create a band of complex, interesting, endearing children protagonists, who all have expertise in certain matters in the realm of Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, and use them together to innovate and create a better world through skills and team work! We also wanted to try to break the myths regarding gender-related interests that used to dominate main-stream culture. Just like pink and blue can be anybody’s favorite colour, regardless of their gender, some girls love technology and engineering, while some boys love to read and paint and look at the world with sensitivity...
As our studio founder and show creator Michael Kalopaidis says, “Through this show we aim to inspire children to become the scientists, engineers, ethical entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow”. We want to inspire children to learn, to invent, to experiment, and to do all that with an environmental conscience and compassion for their fellow human beings, because that’s what we need from the next generation. We need children who aspire to a healthier planet, and a better society.
But it’s not all seriousness and learning, of course! Our protagonists are first and foremost children; bright and colourful, animated children who love life! They don’t only have fun exploring and fixing the world, but they also learn a lot about themselves, their friends and the people around them as they see them through compassionate eyes and learn empathy by listening to and participating in their stories. We watch them shape up into great human beings; smart, fun, flawed but beautiful each in their own way…
Animated series can do wonders for the emotional and cognitive development of children, and we wish to put our own little stone in the construction of quality, educational and inspirational children’s entertainment.
By Georgia Bloo Nicolaou