Walt Disney coined a phrase: Edutainment. It was a combination of ‘education’ and ‘entertainment’ that he hoped would draw young children to new thoughts or complex problems. To make this prospect more likely to succeed, he usually had well known and popular animated characters be the ‘teachers’, or guides, to distract the little ones from figuring out that they were being tricked into learning something.
Ludwig Von Drake was a popular choice, but before him, we had the esteemed Jiminy Cricket. Conscience. Friend. Know-it-All! He was an excellent character to explain the intricacies of math. Specifically multiplication and division.
And so we have a wonderful long play record from 1969 starring Jiminy along with his Teaching Assistant: Rica Moore.
Rica Moore’s full name was Frederica Owen Moore (3 January 1929 – 12 April 1999). She was an actress, singer and composer. Her discography shows that she sang on many of Walt Disney’s albums aimed at children. You can see a listing of these efforts here.
I also learned that this record had no less than seven versions released. This would be why there is a 1963 copyright on the front of the sleeve, and a 1969 copyright on the back. There was a companion album featuring addition and subtraction, also having seven versions:
A real standout feature of this record is the original songs, composed by Moore, designed to make the principles of mathematics easier for children to remember. I have included enlarged images of four of the songs as they appear on the back cover of the sleeve:
Mathematics and Sex Education all on one record. What parent could ask for anything more comprehensive than that?!?
Seriously, I’m an adult and had no idea how ‘gazinta’ relates to division. But apparently it is by definition a humorous Eye dialect spelling of ‘goes into’. To explain more clearly, an electrical plug and a light bulb are gazintas. Generally. any device that goes into any other device fits the definition. An electric plug goes into a wall outlet, a light bulb goes into a socket, so the plug and the light bulb are gazintas. Just as one number would go into another = division.
Class dismissed. Go get some ice cream. You’ve earned it!
Other song titles from the record include The Latin Eskimo, The Multiple Waltz, The Switch-Hitch, and the ever-popular Number One hit-with-a-bullet: The Division Riffle. The songs are sung equally between an uncredited male singer and Rica Moore. Jiminy Cricket chimes in to re-sing a verse or provide instructions to the children so that they can participate. Each song is pretty much interactive.
After listening to these songs, what would be my evaluation of their content, musicality, and educational value? Overall, they seem to be simple, fun, and functional. But why take my word for it? Below is an audio clip of one of the catchiest tunes called ‘Go To the Top of the Class’:
Conclusion: This is a fun vintage romp through Walt’s most engaging Edutainment. Obviously it isn’t available for purchase today outside of eBay or other selling sites. But if you do come across it at your local Charity Shop, as I did, and have just $2.99 CAN, you can sing along with Rica and finally learn how to multiply like the rabbits!