Commentary: Learning in the Age of Television
There could not have been a safer bet when it began in 1969 than that "Sesame Street" would be embraced by children, parents, and educators. Children loved it because they were raised on television commercials, which they intuitively knew were the most carefully crafted entertainments on television. To those who had not yet been to school, even to those who had just started, the idea of being taught by a series of commercials did not seem peculiar. And that television should entertain them was taken as a matter of course.
Parents embraced "Sesame Street" for several reasons, among them that it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children's access to television. "Sesame Street" appeared to justify allowing a 4- or 5-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. Parents were eager to hope that television could teach their children something other than which breakfast cereal has the most crackle. At the same time, "Sesame Street" relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their preschool children how to read--no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance.
They could also plainly see that in spite of its faults, "Sesame Street" was entirely consonant with the prevailing spirit of America. Its use of cute puppets, celebrities, catchy tunes, and rapid-fire editing was certain to give pleasure to the children and would therefore serve as adequate preparation for their entry...
This article is available to subscribers only.
To keep reading this article and more, subscribe now or start a 2-week FREE trial.
- Perspectives Charter Schools, Chicago, IL
- Director of School Support
- The Achievement Network, Multiple Locations
- K-12 Teachers
- The International Educator, Multiple Locations
- Princeton Public School District, Princeton, NJ
- Elementary Principal
- Forest Grove School District, Forest Grove, OR