What Can 1980’s Cereal Commercials Teach Us About Education?

Reflect on cereal commercials from over the years. I fondly think of the 1980’s when I remember these commercials.

What did each commercial have in common?

Here is a short compilation of 5 or 6 commercials from the ‘80’s to jog your memory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUAK4cAt6N8

Did you see it?

Near the end of every commercial, there was a picture and a statement of what a “balanced”, “good”, or “nutritious” breakfast should be. The image of these ideal breakfasts was never just the box of cereal. That box was surrounded by milk, juice, fruit, toast, and more. It would be silly to assert that a potentially sugary cereal by itself would be the wholesome and nutritious answer to a balanced diet.

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So, what does this have to do with education?

In my 20 years of experience, I cannot believe how many resources that come along that are advertised as being the “answer” to teaching children. I have seen math books, reading programs, science texts and more computer-based solutions than everything else combined.

The thing is, it is rare to find these educational resources to be as honest with their own limitations as the “big box” cereal companies were in the ‘80’s.

How is it that a textbook or a resource can be the answer all on its own? I do not believe that it can. Much like a balanced breakfast, our educational resources need to be supported and supplemented with a variety of resources that when combined, create a balanced and authentic learning environment for our students.

So – the next time we consider an educational resource, let’s think about a few key pieces:

  1. Is this a sugary treat, or is it a nutritional staple?
  2. How will this resource supplement an approach to classroom practice – as opposed to being the only answer?
  3. Am I providing a balanced approach in my instruction by teaching skill attainment, comprehension, and fluent application?

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