Wrong, wrong, wrong, Toys "R" Us. Wrong. An inane commercial like this — in which children are taught that science and the environment are boring — sends the exact wrong message.
In the ad, a group of school children are loaded onto a bus labeled, "Meet the Trees Foundation." A ranger shows them pictures of leaves, while the camera pans around revealing a bus filled with restless, sleepy, and disinterested kids. But then our intrepid "ranger" suddenly surprises them with a trip to Toys "R" Us. All is saved.
Wow. What advertising company working for Toys "R" Us came up with this idea, and what executive at Toys "R" Us actually approved it?
This ad is offensive on so many levels:
- It insults science and environmental education teachers.
It insults science and environmental education programs and field trips.
- It insults science and nature in general.
- It insults children (though no doubt these kids got free toys, and maybe even money, to be in the ad — how awesome).
- It promotes blind commercialism and consumerism (OK, I know that's the society we live in, and the purpose of ads, and the only real goal of Toys "R" Us, but to be so blatantly offensive and insensitive?)
- It sends the message, as [Stephen] Colbert so cogently notes that "The great outdoors is nothing compared to the majesty of a strip mall."
My wife is an overworked, underpaid science educator, teaching university students how to teach science to elementary school children. It is an uphill battle: not because kids don't love science. They do. Frankly, young children are wonderful, curious, wide-eyed natural scientists. It is an uphill battle because the resources our society devotes to science education are pathetic. Elementary school teachers get little or no support or training for science education. Materials are outdated or confusing. There is no funding for decent field trips. And our kids are bombarded with subtle (and here, blatant) messages promoting blind, thoughtless, consumerism.
And the results are starting to show, says Gleick, as the U.S. falls farther behind other countries in producing top-quality science, tech, engineering, and math students.