Are Educational shows for older children dead?

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Oct 23, 2014
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#1
Educational TV has earned a stigma of being mainly pre-school oriented fare for tiny tots, with the more PBS/Documentary-style stuff for the parents. But this hasn't always been true. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, it felt like there were equally as many educational shows for the more standard 6-to-11 set on PBS, ABC, Discovery Kids, even Nickelodeon tried to make an entire channel based around the concept together with Sesame Workshop in the early days of Noggin. Nowadays, edutainment for grade school kids is limited to just a few shows on PBS Kids like Arthur. The aforementioned Sesame Workshop used to do many 6-to-11 targeted shows like The Electric Company and Ghost Writer. Now they're mostly just Sesame Street.

I mean, I get it, older kids are notoriously difficult to pitch edutainment shows to, and teenagers and college kids are a whole other can of worms. But I still think you can sell edutainment to this audience provided you're not patronizing or in-your-face about it. It's all about weaving it into the storytelling and writing in a clever and engaging way.
 

SweetShop209

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Jan 5, 2014
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#4
I recall reading on tv tropes how Craig Bartlett once tried pitching Ready Jet Go as an older skewing educational kids show, but had to make it more appropriate for the PBS Kids audience. I think the stigma comes mainly from how educational shows are often involved in games of funding where they're required to have a certain amount of educational content to even stay afloat, even if sometimes meant making the show less fun and more overt in the material . PBS Kids Go was an attempt to aim for elementary school kids instead of preschool kids, but because it's on PBS , they're thought of as preschooler shows. The fact they're TV-Y adds to this.
 
Oct 23, 2014
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#5
I recall reading on tv tropes how Craig Bartlett once tried pitching Ready Jet Go as an older skewing educational kids show, but had to make it more appropriate for the PBS Kids audience. I think the stigma comes mainly from how educational shows are often involved in games of funding where they're required to have a certain amount of educational content to even stay afloat, even if sometimes meant making the show less fun and more overt in the material . PBS Kids Go was an attempt to aim for elementary school kids instead of preschool kids, but because it's on PBS , they're thought of as preschooler shows. The fact they're TV-Y adds to this.
PBS didn't always have a pre-school stigma with its children's programming. they always had shows aimed at and did well with the 6-11 set, such as Arthur and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The problem was that they didn't have any way to separate the pre-school stuff from the shows for older kids, so they all just kind of blended together, PBS Kids Go! was created to give the 6-11 content its own space on the network, and it did rather well in that, lasting nearly a decade with new shows regularly.

Today, PBS claims PBS Kids' target audience is 2-9 year olds, which includes both preschoolers and grade schoolers (at least, up to third grade). I guess PBS just gave up on trying to separate shows, and decided to aim most stuff at both sides of the spectrum.
 

Red Arrow

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Oct 22, 2012
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#7
I just realized that the USA seems to have a lack of educational programs for older children in general, not just cartoons...

Over here we at least have lots and lots of educational programs with real actors / presenters. Same in the UK.
 

Dr.Pepper

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Sep 10, 2006
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In A House
#8
I kind of noticed that. A while ago I was talking to my friend about how I remember coming home from school when I was seven or eight and watching stuff like Arthur, Magic School Bus, Kratt’s Creatures, and Wishbone. He pointed out how they were for older kids and then in dawned on me that there is nothing similar in nature to Wishbone on anymore.
 
Oct 23, 2014
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#9
Sometimes I wonder if Nick and Sesame Workshop kept Noggin going the way it was before the shift to pre-schoolers and The N split. Looking back at its early years, Noggin was essentially, Nickelodeon with an educational bent.
 

Daikun

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#10
Older children are already well into school. They'll feel embarrassed having to look at puppets and cartoons to learn, so they'll feel as though they've outgrown PBS by that point. Once they've learned their colors and ABCs, what else is there to watch? Documentaries? Yawnsville for a young mind. They've just had a long day at school, they're assigned homework, and now they feel like they're getting more of that. They'd rather be watching Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network when they get home.
 
Oct 23, 2014
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317 3
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#11
Older children are already well into school. They'll feel embarrassed having to look at puppets and cartoons to learn, so they'll feel as though they've outgrown PBS by that point. Once they've learned their colors and ABCs, what else is there to watch? Documentaries? Yawnsville for a young mind. They've just had a long day at school, they're assigned homework, and now they feel like they're getting more of that. They'd rather be watching Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network when they get home.
There's other things to teach in edutainment afterwards. Wishbone for example, teaches classic literature lessons from them that preschoolers may not have interest in. Or you can just do how-to/life-hack shows like Zoom. Point is, Edutainment for older kids has been done before, it's just that these days it's less common than the past.
 

jaylop97

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Oct 5, 2014
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#12
Nowadays the only way an educational show would work is if it was subjected into another subject to keep them functional. If not that it would need to be an exaggerated show to keep it entertaining.
 

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