Happy Birthday Square One

Today is the twentieth birthday of Square One Television, the 1980s and 90s television show produced by Children’s Television Workshop (CTW, now Seseme Workshop). Many of us remember watching both Square One (for math) and 3-2-1 Contact (for science) as children. To some extent educational science programming continued after the discontinuation of 3-2-1 Contact, both Newton’s Apple (for adults) and Bill Nye (for students) continued the trend of high quality educational science programming, though both of those programs have also ceased production. Yet there has never been another successful attempt at educational math programming that I’m aware of. The same fate was met by Ghostwriter (for reading/writing) and Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego (for geography/social studies) which were also popular educational PBS programs. Although these programs may sometimes have been of dubious educational value, they were certainly more educational than much of what is found on afterschool television today and they were enjoyed by a great many people.

Aside from a reprise in this creative and clever educaitonal television writing for school-aged students (most educational programming these days seems aimed at the pre-school to 2nd grade crowd) I would hope that the producers of these early pioneering shows would see fit to release DVDs. Much of this programming is still used in schools because nothing better has come along and the episodes would also be enjoyed by a wider populace which either remembers them or is looking for quality educational programming. Until the day these are available on commercial DVD I’ll have to be satisfied by the tape collection which I have traded with other collectors and converted to DVD.

For more information on Square One Television visit the fantastic Square One Television fansite and forums. For more information on 3-2-1 Contact and early science programming read 80s Science TV at Inkling Magazine.

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