Sesame Street: The iPad of its Time

Sesame Street

In the midst of the early morning rush, my two year-old daughter Emma sat contently on the couch working with puzzles on an Elmo Worlds educational app. Along with being focused on the iPad, she was also nodding her head to the songs of Sesame Street being projected from the television. Yes, perhaps she was a bit over stimulated for the morning, but, she was learning. She was learning to multi-task, she was learning about shapes and as her nodding turned to singing, it was evident that she was learning through auditory simulation. With all of this, it became very clear to me that within a social and cultural framework, both the iPad and Sesame Street are in synced – both game changers in education that were criticized at their inception as mere entertainment – empty of true and meaningful participation on the part of the user/audience. In fact, if reflecting just on Sesame Street – it was the iPad of its time. An artifact that promoted activity – dancing to songs, singing, role playing etc. I have clear memories of drawing and coloring while watching or rather listening to Sesame Street – I was interacting with  the show even  though my 80s cubed television was not a touch screen.

This brings me to a reading recommendation that is relevant to either the educators of the world or pop-culture buffs.  Michael Davis’ writing entitled “The Street Gang” provides an historical account about the birth of Sesame Street in the 1960s. A by-product of an intense dinner conversation focused on the viability of television as educational tool, Sesame Street has remained a cultural phenomenon. “The Street Gang” tells the story of how Sesame Street defied expectations to become one of the most popular educational tools in the world.  Some may argue it is merely a brand void of moral purpose and one only committed to “educate” for commerce.  I as former child-age junkie, teacher and parent,I passionately retort  -advocating that its brand, characters, songs, animations and now 21st century applications, promotes imagination, literacy, numeracy and the play skills that are fair reaching and every so important within a socially driven world.

With all of this, visit a link to the “The Street Gang” and read a few pages for free. I purchased the book and it was an engaging read that looked not merely at the birth of Sesame Street but also the academic research that went into its inception and how the program stands purely on the foundation of education.

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