Education has become a basic necessity for a person living in the 21st century, however, traditional methods of education often fail to attract a large number of people. In this scenario emerges ‘Edutainment’ - a way of educating people through entertainment. In practice, different entertainment materials have gained enormous success in delivering information and education to a wide range of people. Jabir Misbah writes about this new form of education
Star crossed lovers or a combination running towards disaster? The debate has long been standing on whether education and entertainment can mesh together and form the perfect couple. It seems fun to think of both the concepts in tandem but does it really work? Can education be treated lightly? Can entertainment be taken seriously?
This particular historical argument has faced its demise with the rise of a new concept. A thought that connect the dots of education and entertainment to form the perfect art known as ‘Edutainment’. Maybe, it’s a messy union, but looking back at history, when has education not had a messy and chaotic environment surrounding it? From the star gazing of Galileo, who had to sacrifice a lot to promote the universal truths to even the recent time example of underdeveloped countries, where education was and still is limited to certain individuals of high classed society. Edutainment is a new concept, but the thought it spreads is modern and classical at the same time.
So what is edutainment? The theoretical definition would be ‘a hybrid genre that relies heavily on visual material, on narrative or game – like formats computer games education implications for game developers, and on more informal, less didactic styles of address’. Too hard to understand? Well, maybe edutainment could have helped you understand this, if you were introduced to it, however, laying it out in much simpler terms, edutainment is the marriage between education and entertainment, both in offline and digital forms. It can be a shabby old classroom where you are taught by comedians, the history of Bengal which always seemed boring to you. It can also be watching random modern looking animated videos on YouTube, of the topic say, ‘How to pay your taxes’. The motto of edutainment is that, you will not be allowed to taste even a drop of boredom, and participate in a more engaging ambience where you will be served the education you require in a more relaxing format.
Is this a new trend? Is it something that our forefathers have never thought of? No, not exactly. Education and entertainment have met frequently on an overlapping path. They are lines that meet here and there and then go away again in tears and eagerness for the next intersection. When, these paths do collide, however, it becomes the best of both worlds. Imagine laughing your hearts while memorising all those tough Bangla words that make your jaw hurt. So, how do I say that education and entertainment have been in a secret relationship without us knowing all this time?
Remember, back when you were in kindergarten, your classroom was ornamented with paintings and handcrafts of your hand? Edutainment. Maybe you’ve played games like- Age of Empires or Rise of Nations which taught you of the famous warfare and the technological advancements of the world, again you have been benefitted here by the grace of edutainment. What about the alphabet learning videos that your young cousin has to see when he is being fed? Edutainment as well. Remember Dora? The young adventurous girl, who taught you the little bit of Spanish that you brag about with your friends? The entire concept behind Dora the Explorer was based on edutainment. There can be no denial to the fact that entertainment in education has previously benefitted all of us, but the question that still remains whether or not it can appeal to the older generation who would prefer to learn more than just ‘uno dos and tres’ of Spanish from Disney’s favorite kids show.
This is where the talk of edutainment mainly comes into play, whether or not you can teach a wider variety of students, through games and decorations. Let’s look into some statistics first. A recent survey done of people from the age of 16 to 65 in the US indicates that participation of education significantly falls down with age. Where the numbers were as high as 73% in 6-15 years, it fell down to 55% in the latter years.
This significant fall indicates the necessity of a new module of learning. The modern way of learning has not only benefitted the young children, but their older siblings and their parents as well. Take for example the numerous number of education video channels that you see on YouTube right now. Ted- Ed the most famous educative content channel has over 10 million subscribers. New upcoming channels such as Vox Entertainment and The Infographics Show have their fair share of fan following as well. They produce videos that are enlightening people all over the world with some new information every day. Why do they have these many followers, whose age range is mainly in the youth sector? Simple, with the upsurge in scientific advancements our society now is more curious towards the inner workings of the human mind and the various mysteries of the world. Combine this curiosity with the modern way of visually appealing graphics and you have the perfect blend. So, after this, would you really still debate on the emergence of edutainment? Well, you can, but be aware, while you are talking of its necessity, edutainment will have already taken one step further towards establishing itself as the alternative to traditional education.
In our country, edutainment is already on its flow. Digital classrooms, seminars and workplaces are already in place to tutor the youth on various subjects. The best example of edutainment of the recent times in Bangladesh has to be the 10 Minute School Show, where students actively take part in educational games which are directed towards making the viewers learn a thing or two. Other than 10 Minute School, there are other online platforms such as TogBog and Dhaka Daily which are promoting edutainment content.
Pink Floyd was right when they said that teachers should leave the kids alone, but today in the sense that education should be given in the format where it is not mind control but it is rather a relaxation for the mind. Learning can be a lot of fun, when it becomes an artistic skill for the teacher to bring out the entertainment side to it, while teaching the educational values as well.
Jabir Misbah is a story-teller and knowledge enthusiast.
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