Tom Lehrer and Moral Education

Tom Lehrer has done many great things, but one of my all time favorites is a sly dig at McCarthyism that he managed to sneak in toward the end of an Electric Company song. Pay attention around the 1:50 mark of this video:

When I came to the US as a kid (age 7), I watched a lot of PBS kids’ shows to learn English. The Electric Company was my favorite, and for some reason that one song really imprinted itself on my subconscious brain (though I figured out that it was by Tom Lehrer only a few years ago). I don’t know for sure how much it contributed to my moral education, but I like to think that maybe it had some impact.

As a grown up, I love the premise that if you think things through, you really can frame current events, and the issues of right and wrong embedded therein, in terms that kids can understand. That’s helped a lot with my own kids over the last few days as we try to process the events in Ferguson and now New York City.


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