By Krystal Yang
The word “edutainment” has been floating around a lot in the news, especially in the era of the “Internet Age.” The term “edutainment” describes a flourishing industry that mixes education and entertainment. Education and entertainment have traditionally stood at odds with each other—education is seen as the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom, whereas entertainment is seen as purely stimulus material. In fact, with the popularity of video games, pop music, and sensational movies, many adults are concerned that entertainment is actually degrading towards students’ education. On the other hand, many high-schoolers will complain about how bland and boring traditional education is.
However, new edutainment is bridging stereotypes of both education and entertainment, ushering in both traditional and modern media. Now, more than ever, edutainment is promoting museum visits, podcasts, and documentaries. Learning no longer needs to just occur in the classroom; we can learn from the real world. Museums like the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, for example, teach people about Asian history and art through interactive exhibits, where people can watch videos and use touchscreen tablets to learn more about important artifacts. The museum also hosts Asian festivals, like Lunar New Year, allowing visitors to partake in cultural celebrations to learn the cultural norms behind Asian communities. Podcasts like Freakonomics Radio also reach out to people of all demographics—you don’t have to be an economic whizz to become interested in the questions that Freakonomics Radio answers, such as “What does a C.E.O. actually do?” and “What would be the best universal language?”. Clearly, the edutainment industry has expanded the sphere of what we consider to be “educational.”
Furthermore, many schools are integrating more edutainment, particularly with younger children. Toys like Legos and jigsaw puzzles, although not as explicitly educational as math-based coloring books and kid-friendly dictionaries, help children develop logical thinking skills, fine motor skills, and a strengthened attention span.
Edutainment is likely to become a hotter buzzword. With artificial-intelligence and virtual-reality technology becoming more prevalent, we will soon be surrounded with many new tools for learning. Can you imagine one day being able to learn French culture by visiting France through virtual reality? Edutainment is the future of schools and entertainment media.