Cartoons like ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Masha the Bear’

All of us can see the infatuation in young kids with watching cartoons, especially when they have fun watching old episodes repeatedly. I always wonder what makes these cartoons and cartoon characters so dear to them.

I should admit, even when we grow older, it is simply fun to watch these cartoons, especially when you watch them with your young children or grandchildren. It is interesting to observe their facial expressions and the intensity with which they watch these cartoons.

The fascination with watching these cartoons probably does not go away until they are about 8 years old. Generally, cartoons are stories built around the central characters and are primarily funny because of depicting scientifically impossible acts: changes in shapes, sizes, motion, velocity, colours, speed, etc.

Let me take an example of Tom chasing Jerry and hitting a tree hard, and Tom gets wrapped around the tree, falls to the ground as a 2-dimensional piece of clothing, shrugs off, is back to his original form, and continues chasing Jerry. Children applaud!

Once they grow old enough and are just about starting to study the fundamentals of science, motion, forces, etc., Is it a good idea to use the very same cartoons they so much enjoyed watching growing up and use them, annotate them, and modify them to make the children understand that while all this is fun, it does not comply with the fundamental laws of motion, forces, matter, shapes, sizes, etc.? My premise is that the Instructional design methodology here is to use something that children already have an affinity for and enjoy watching (we know it is not easy to capture the attention of the children for too long).

Can we use the same cartoon episodes to show them what is fun, but which in reality is not possible, and hence lead them to understand some basics of ideas in science? Or, do the minds of the children clearly distinguish between the two, and develop an infatuation with cartoons only for fun, while they already know in the back of their minds that some of the scenes that play out are not possible in real life? Compartmentalised thinking! We, as adult learners, do it too, when we watch fictional, action and adventure movies; we may enjoy them and get hooked to them, even though we know they are all unreal. Does the human mind automatically distinguish amusement and real-world thinking? Are there cognitive theories to prove this?

All mind games.

I have always wondered why the studios that are making these cartoons do not use them as learning material to disprove that some of the happenings are unreal.

About the author

D Sudhanva is the founder and CEO at Excelsoft Technologies, a globally renowned eLearning Solutions Company. With a focus on transforming education across the world, Sudhanva has steered Excelsoft to be a thought leader in Education Technology with robust products delivering innovative solutions.