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Sesame Street as a Community Asset. Your Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Friends and Family' started by BooberKnowsBest, Feb 11, 2007.

  1. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Very true. Most kids shows want to shield children from the world, provide a happy cute fictional world, with no substance. Sesame Street didn't shy away from such things, they offered hope. Again, I'm not sure that's as true now, but that's not what your paper is discussing. :)
  2. Katzi428

    Katzi428 Well-Known Member

    One specific thing I learned from Sesame Street was words both in English & Spanish(like agua in Spanish=water in English, casa in Spanish= house in English) Sesame Street showed some segments in both English & Spanish.
  3. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Another thing about diversity, it also includes the Muppet characters. There are monsters on the show, some of which are often frightening, at least at first glance. Kids are always taught to be afraid of monsters. But Sesame Street teaches not to judge someone by their appearance or heritage. "Ugly" can be beautiful. Sesame Street has songs with lyrics like, "I Want a Monster to be my Friend" and "We are Monsters, but we're sweet, we're the lovable Monsters of Sessame Street." It's a very important lesson, especially for kids today.
  4. wow, these are some great responses from everybody. yeah, i always liked the fact that SS didn't shy away from the more delicate subjects like death and war and stuff like that. These are things that kids need to know about as much as adults do. And the great thing is that SS talks about it in a way that kids can understand without dumbing it down. This is one of the main reasons i chose to write about it. But anyways, thanks everyone, there's alot of good quotes in this thread. Oh and thanks haralde, for the correction on the debut year! i wasn't sure about that one, but at least i was close;)
  5. Approved!

    Good news, everyone! my topic was approved! :excited: so now i'm off to start the research. I'm going to try and rent (or buy) "the world according to sesame street" can anyone recommend any other good sources like books or websites? once again, thanks a bunch everybody! ;)
  6. Erine81981

    Erine81981 Well-Known Member

    I'll see what I can come up with. Here you go BKB.

    Growing up in the late 80's since i was born around 1981. I really don't recall any of the older episodes at all but i still remember several from my childhood of the 80s. Now seeing that Ryan has already talked about how Sesame Street taught him about numbers, letter and how to read then I'll talk about how Sesame Street has made me love puppets. Ever since i was little i couldn't get enough of Sesame Street. Coloring books, cassette tapes and toys. I have always been a big fan of puppets. So i would do puppet shows for my family with stuff animals. After awhile they would fall apart and i would then have to get more. That was until Sesame Workshop came out with the puppets of the late 80's early 90's. Ooo of all the stuff i could with these characters. My first being Oscar. I don't know what made my granny get Oscar but that's who i first had. But what Sesame Street taught me?

    It's taught me that no matter who or what color races you are. You can do anything you sent your mind to. I remmeber one episode that Telly had broke his arm. Poor Telly didn't know what to do. He thought he would never be able to all the things he did when he didn't have a broken arm but that's when Maria and Lius told him he would be able to do anything if he just set his mind to do it. So Sesame Street had taught me lots of things over the years and also that music is the best way to get over something your mad about or sad too. So i hope that one of these days i'll be able to do what i want to do with my life. And i owe it all to Sesame Street.

    Hope you can use any of this BKB. If not don't fret. Can't wait to see the finished paper.
  7. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

  8. Thanx for your contribution, Erine81981! i really enjoyed reading what you had to say:) and thanx mikebenedict for that link! that's awesome that they have the whole book! that's sure gonna come in handy:smirk:
  9. Hey i remembered i promised i'd post my paper when i finished, so i have returned to MC. I'm almost done with my paper, but i'd like to ask you guys a couple more questions.

    How do you rate Sesame street next to other educational programs such as between the lions, teletubbies, or any other shows you can think of?


    What is your opinion on the use of television as a teaching tool?

    thanks alot everyone, looking forward to your replies
  10. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    1. Sesame Street has been around for nearly 38 years, and through out the years, Sesame Street has always managed to keep up with the times as far as children's education is concerned; I mean sure, shows like Between the Lions, or Clifford the Big Red Dog may offer a variety, but if you ask me, they still can't ever muster up to Sesame Street.
    2. I think it's an absolutely brilliant idea, kids ALWAYS manage to pick up just about everything from what they see on TV, so when you have this tool that can teach young children while at the same time entertain them, I think that right there is just plain genius.
  11. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    I can't really answer number one, since I have a higher opinion of the way the show used to be.

    2. I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it's very true that kids pick up what they see on television through songs, repetition and familiar characters. Since so many kids watch TV, I think it does have a certain responsibility to be educational and send good messages.

    Now on the other hand, I've read a lot about television and what it's able to do. Including the book, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (great book). Postman explains that television by its nature is primarily visual and primarily entertainment. Because it's visual, there are limits as to how much information it's able to get across. For instance, TV isn't great for too much exposition or the memorizing of dates. It's best at visual imagery, including colors and puppets.

    In addition, Postman points out that TV education like Sesame Street is about rewards. If you learn from TV, you get flashy colors, puppets, songs etc. The reward is instant and fun. But that's not how real life school education is. Sometimes learning in life is hard and there's no way of making it easy or fun, and the reward isn't instant. TV education may give kids the impression learning must always be fun.

    (I don't entirely agree with that last part, that kids may think all learning must be fun. It's true that some kids don't want to work hard if it's not easy or fun. But that's not all TV's fault. Plus, I think most kids do accept that school is important even when it's not fun.)

    Not that Postman (or me) is putting down Sesame Street at all. TV education is good and effective up to a point. Just that it's good to be aware of its limits. :)

    *Note, I'm mainly paraphrasing Neil Postman's book here so I wouldn't quote me on this. I'd look up his book if you're really interested. This is just if you're interested in looking into this further. :)
  12. Ilikemuppets

    Ilikemuppets New Member

    I think that Sesame Street has stayed consistant over the years in maintaining and keep up what they do so well, teaching kids! I think a show like betwen the Mions is great. It's for slightly older childern,but whild sesame Street teaches the basic fundamentles of reading, Between the Lions spicificly teaches in the field on reading and gets deeper into the futher learing rules of of it.

    I have know idea how this would help you, but it's just my opinion.
  13. hey everyone, i know i've been away for a while. getting busy and all that. but anywho, almost done with the paper, should have it up by tonight or tomorrow. it's alot longer than i expected! alright, see you all then
  14. finally!

    Well, here it is!:) like i said it's a bit longer than i expected. But i didn't get to use everyone's input or else it really would've been too long. but thanks alot to everyone who helped out! so tell me what you think!;)

    Representing the Street


    When you consider your most valuable assets, what comes to mind? Friends? Family? A job perhaps? These are all very important personal assets which mostly everyone has in common. But what about those needs that must be filled elsewhere, needs that go beyond just yourself? What about the needs of your community? A community asset is something of great importance as it affects many people as opposed to just one. A community does not have to be limited to just a single neighborhood or small town, as many people believe. Communities can be very dynamic. A community can include anything from a virtually unknown small-town organization, to a very large internet based fan club that reaches thousands of people worldwide.
    Education is an overwhelmingly important community asset which is necessary in practically every country in the world. Education is especially vital for young children in particular, as it has been scientifically proven that children learn the most in the first five years of life. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated educating tools available in some countries of the world, are not always available to others. It is very important that, because of its significance, the best education should be made available to all who seek it, no matter what pocket of the world they happen to have been deposited in.
    Luckily, the world has already taken the first few steps toward the achievement of this goal. Charity organizations are incredibly important. They raise money for the countries who are most in need of assistance so that the people can have the means to receive a better-quality education for themselves as well as for their children.
    One of the most useful innovations capable of better educating the world is the internet. Through the internet, information can be accessed on the World Wide Web from just about anywhere on the globe, just by typing a few words into the form of any search engine, many of which, by the way, are available in many various languages aside from English.
    Another large factor involved in the spreading of education throughout the world, is the growing power of telecommunications. What with the current level of the universally beneficial aspects of educational television, coupled with the fact that it continues to improve day by day, television has begun to be recognized as a potentially powerful force in the goal of maintaining a readily available amount of educational resources worldwide.
    More refined educational television is gradually making its way into the places where it is most needed, usually in the countries lacking a relatively considerable amount of financial resources. However, because of the extreme differences in world cultures, creating a universally acceptable form of educational television can be a difficult task. Few shows have been able to bridge this barrier, but there is at least one very notable program which seems to have accomplished this feat extremely well. This program is Sesame Street.
    Sesame Street was created by the Children’s Television Workshop, in association with Jim Henson, and made its debut on November 10th of 1969. The program made use of puppets, animation sequences, as well as live actors and actresses to teach young children, about the basics of reading, numbers & arithmetic, geometric shapes, and thinking processes. It is now one of the longest running programs in television history, still going strong with 37 seasons behind it and most definitely many more to come. There is no doubt that Sesame Street has revolutionized both television and education. Sesame Street is now being aired in over 120 countries worldwide, with over 20 international versions having been produced, each one uniquely tied in with the different cultures encountered within the countries in which it is broadcast. Sesame Street is now widely accepted as being one of the world’s most highly regarded teaching tools for young children, as well as being one of the most successful programs in the international circle.
    It is for these reasons, and many more, that Sesame Street is an exponentially vital asset, not just to one or two small local communities, but to billions of people who make up thousands of communities, which in turn make up the largest community on the planet, which is, of course, the world itself.

    Literature Review/Theoretical Framework

    The dictionary defines an asset as “somebody or something that is useful and contributes to the success of something.” A community is defined as “a group of people with a common background or with a shared interest within society.” By this definition we are able to ascertain that there are many types of communities which are not limited to where you are from or where you live. So something that is valuable to a community would be a community asset. It is important to study sociology because we can gain useful knowledge by examining the kind of communities that different people belong to and how they interact with others in the same community so that we can determine ways to improve our communities in a mutually benefiting way. Deficit thinking, however, is not beneficial to a community ambitiously seeking to better itself. Only looking at the negative side of everything discourages one to take further interest in improving it’s conditions. Therefore, as opposed to deficit thinking, we must supply constructive criticisms, aimed not just at finding faults, but at improving them.
    Most people who take an interest in writing about Sesame Street usually focus on it’s educational benefits to young children, usually preschoolers. Writers want us to be informed about the ways that Sesame Street can teach young children to read and write and often discuss the use of puppets as a wonderful way for the children to relate to what is being taught to them. Many writings of various authors talk about Sesame Street as a groundbreaking program and how it has revolutionized television as well as education. Many writers also tell of the history of the show, its founders and how it has changed to suit a more modern audience. Unfortunately, a few other writers choose to ridicule Sesame Street in ways which are meant to appall the sensible and amuse the dim-witted. It has been carefully determined, however, that these claims are not worth further mention in this paper as there appears to be a certain lack of intelligence behind these particular writers, apart from the distinction that most of them have managed to spell the word “the” correctly.
    Very few writers talk about the benefits that Sesame Street provides not only to children, but also to adults. It is not made clear that one of the main intentions of the show’s writers is to entertain adults as well as children so that parents can take an active role in their children’s learning and development. Also lacking in many of the current articles written about Sesame Street, is the fact that the show goes beyond teaching merely letters, numbers, reading, and writing. There is much more to Sesame Street than counting to 10 and reciting the alphabet. The lessons actually range from manners to values, from foreign languages to hygiene. These will be some of the main focuses of this research paper.
    There wasn’t much writing to be found on the specific subject of Sesame Street, save for a few editorial pieces. Trips to the library amounted to nothing, as no books could be found on the subject. This lack of relative information was surprising, as it is common knowledge that Sesame Street plays such a large role in the lives of children. It is important that more people study and write about the subject so that we can be aware of the direct effect that Sesame Street has had on us and on the children.
    The book, All About Sesame Street, is about the founding of the show and many aspects concerning its creation and development. This book gives an in-depth look at how the show got started, the methods used to decipher the content of the show, and different techniques used to convey the educational subject matter to children while entertaining them at the same time.
    The internet provided many interesting articles, though most basically contained the same information. Many articles were supportive of Sesame Street and educational programming in general. Most talked about the educational benefits children receive through educational programming, as well as its effect on the development of young children. There were not many critical articles.
    Muppet Central is a website which caters to the fans of Jim Henson’s work, as well as the work of his fellow puppeteers. When members of the website’s forum were asked questions about Sesame Street, many seemed very enthusiastic about the subject. All who responded did so positively with hardly any criticisms.
    The actual show, Sesame Street, is, in itself, quite entertaining, even for an 18 year old. The show still teaches what it’s most famous for: letters, numbers, basic reasoning skills, and values. In recent years, however, the new subject of maintaining healthy habits has been appearing frequently throughout the show. Many things have been changed and modernized, yet Sesame Street still manages to maintain its appeal.
    Though there was not a large availability of sources, the information that was attainable has been deemed sufficient for studying. The information gathered has proved adequate to deduce consistent conclusions as to the answer to the question undergoing research. Although the absence of complete books on the subject is a bit of a put-off, the research still can, and should, continue, as this is a subject of some importance that needs to be brought to light.


    The first step taken to acquire information was a thorough search of the internet. The aim of the internet searching was to find book titles, articles, documentaries, or anything else that would prove useful to the research project. The internet proved to be one of the most useful sources of information, as the majority of sources found were articles on personal web pages, or on internet-based encyclopedias.
    Trips to the school and local libraries proved futile, as no books could be found on the specific or general topic of the research paper.
    Interviews were conducted with 2 young children, aged four & five, respectively, while they watched Sesame Street.
    Because the information gathered at this point was thought to be insufficient, the internet was brought back into play. It was here that a fan based website called Muppet Central, which centered around Jim Henson and the Muppets, was discovered. Fortunately, the website also included a forum where many fans could communicate with one another. It was decided that many of these fans would be very helpful as interviewees, so some questions regarding Sesame Street were asked, leaving any member to answer if he or she so desired. Many responded, and some even suggested other sources that have also proved to be very helpful in the search for knowledge regarding Sesame Street.
    Through the fans, a very helpful, out-of-print, book was found that had been completely typed out and was made available through an internet web site. Another source that surfaced was a website commonly referred to as the “Muppet Wiki,” a web encyclopedia resembling the more well known Wikipedia, but instead focused mainly on the Muppets, Jim Henson productions, and the performers/puppeteers of the various Muppet characters.
    Personal experience has also been a big part of the research, and is perhaps the most important source in any study. After all, how can one justify writing critically of a subject when one has never experienced it firsthand?


    A very notable occurrence was the apparent lack of criticisms pertaining to Sesame Street. Practically every source commended the program. This was one of the most interesting discoveries, as an issue typically is not quite so one-sided. If a writer did indeed criticize the program, it was usually done in only a few sentences, and typically after having praised the program endlessly. Also, critical writing was often solely based on personal opinions or preferences. For example, Minnie P. Berson at State University College at Fredonia wrote, "Why debase the art form of teaching with phony pedagogy, vulgar sideshows, bad acting, and layers of smoke and fog to clog the eager minds of small children?" This opinion apparently is not shared by most of the public due to the fact that the series has already won a record 101 Emmy awards (Muppet Wiki).
    Of the overwhelming amount of positive articles, most contained essentially the same information: that the show is, by all means, wonderful. The amount of articles written about Sesame Street would cause one to wonder why there aren’t many books on the subject, though.
    One writer that stood out of the crowd, a person by the name of Jordan Bartel, wrote a very positive, albeit very different, article concerning Sesame Street. Bartel talks about Sesame Street as a sort of healing experience, which takes her away, for a time, from the many worries and concerns plaguing much of the modern world. In her anecdote, she finds herself sitting down on the couch watching Sesame Street, asking herself, “Was there nothing better on? Probably.” She goes on to write, “And guess what? I instantly felt more relaxed and at ease. A smile was permanently planted on my face the whole time.” She then proceeds to talk about her experiences and personal memories associated with the show. In her final statement, she writes, “Watching an episode of ‘Sesame Street’ is like taking a trip back to a more innocent time. I didn't have work stress or politicians lying or Paris Hiltons to think about.” (Bartel) From reading this article, it was realized that there exist many shared sentiments regarding the show. Sesame Street can now be viewed from a different angle, not just as a teaching tool, or as entertainment, but also, as a stress reliever.
    From the interviews conducted with other fans of Sesame Street, namely, members of the Muppet Central Forum, there were also many shared feelings regarding the series. A fan who goes by the screen name MrsPepper wrote, “I'd say that it taught me values when I was young, things that I still think are important and that even adults could continue to use.” Another member, theprawncracker, wrote, “Sesame Street first taught me to love music…Sesame Street also taught me how to first laugh. It was also where I learned what real comedy is…Aside from teaching me about music and laughter, the show taught me to read. I learned my alphabet at two, and was reading books by three.” In regards to Sesame Street’s effect on the community, theprawncracker went on to say, “I have a very firm belief that Sesame is responsible for most kids coming into kindergarten knowing their alphabet, numbers, and sometimes even how to read. I think that Sesame Street is the best thing that has ever happened to children's education, and will continue to educate for years to come.” Another fan, D’Snowth, brought up some very interesting points. D’Snowth stated, “Well [the] thing I admire about Sesame Street is the fact that it's such an ethnically diverse community in itself because the entire street resides people of different races like whites, blacks, Hispanics, birds, grouches, monsters, Ernie and Bert, and so on… There's so much hate going on in this world today, Sesame Street is like the safe haven where a lot of people would love to live…sure there are still SOME communities left where it's like everyone knows everyone by name, but you rarely see very diverse communities anymore and the Sesame Street community is the kind of community I'd love to live in”(Muppet Central). To see that so many people share such strong feelings about what some would call a simple children’s television program, this alone shows the strong sense of community surrounding Sesame Street, it’s biggest fans, youngest fans, and anyone else who happens across it, and likes what they see.
    When a four year old girl and five year old boy were asked about Sesame Street, the response was unanimous: “It’s cool!” When asked why it was so cool, the girl stated that she liked the character, named Zoe, who likes to dance ballet. The little girl said, “I like to do the dancing too, ‘cause it’s fun. They said it’s exercise, but I don’t think so…it’s too much fun.” The boy said that he liked Sesame Street because, “Cookie Monster showed me how to do letters, and my teacher said I’m really smart because I can do that.” As an after thought, the boy adds, "It's funny when Cookie Monster eats the letters!” The opinions of children as young as this are just as important as the opinions of experts. This shows that children are definitely learning. And what’s more, they don’t even realize it, thinking that it’s too much fun to be educational. This idea proves that it is possible to get educated and enjoy it at the same time. When the children were asked if they ever watch with their parents, both said, “Sometimes.” When asked if they liked it better when watching with their parents, in so many words, the answer was yes. This evidence shows that at so young an age, children benefit more when their parents are involved with the learning process. Parents are an important part of a child’s development, and it is imperative that they should spend as much time with their children as possible, and not leave it all up to the teachers to instruct them on everything. Parental involvement could be the definitive difference between the A’s and F’s their children may receive in school.
    Reading the book, All About Sesame Street, was a very interesting and enriching experience. the book offers a very unique understanding of why and how the show came to be the way it is. One of the most interesting excerpts, emerged from the chapter entitled, "In Color for Black and White." This chapter discusses the substantial educational imbalances in existence at the time, between different races, and how the writers of Sesame Street decided to design the show so that all children would be able to benefit equally. Phylis Feinstein writes, "CTW felt emphatically that Black and other minority-group children grew up seeing few people of their own race or group on television ... CTW decided that they would go beyond just being an integrated show. They would also reflect minority-group interests by presenting programs that these groups could relate to and understand, believe in, and take pride from." (Feinstein) CTW wanted all children to have the same chances and potential to be great human beings, regardless of race, religion, or anything else that may have set them apart. Ms. Feinstein goes on to write, "Sesame Street would bother to teach 'tolerance' for people of other races and backgrounds ... it would create a positive stance. It would have attractive adults and children of various skin colors and backgrounds taking part in all aspects of the show." (Feinstein) Sesame Street taught children then, as it still does today, that race or skin color doesn't matter. That a Black child has just as much potential as a White child, and that each has a right to a higher education. This is a message that has never disappeared from Sesame Street; it is still a place where people of all races live together in peace and friendship, where anyone is welcome.
    In watching the show, it was discovered that many things had been changed over the years. The most obvious change is a whole lot of Elmo, and a whole lot less of everyone else. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Children react positively to Elmo, so it’s more of a plus than a minus. Although many favorite segments have disappeared, there are also several beneficial trade-offs. Sesame Street has now taken to teaching about proper eating and exercise habits. Some people have complained that there is even an over-emphasis on these issues. But then, we must remember that there also remains the issue of childhood obesity, which is steadily growing larger every year. In watching the show again, the realization struck that this show is not made to the specifications of the long-time fan. It is, as it has always been, made especially for young children. It contains issues that pertain to them, lessons that are much more important than the joyful reminiscing of an older fan. This show is for the children, and the adults are just along for the ride. Just as it has always been.


    Examining both the facts and opinions regarding the subject, it is very fair to say that Sesame Street definitely deserves all of the credit it has received throughout the years, and perhaps much more. The series has helped the world much more than we realize.
    The show has helped fans enjoy themselves, to have at least one hour a day to get away from their problems and get lost in the innocent fun and humor of it all. People probably don’t realize it at the time, but this is not all that the show is doing for them. Sesame Street does not just take people away from their problems, but shows them why these problems occur, and how to deal with them. These problem solving skills, such as coping with the death of a loved one, dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster, falling off of a pogo stick, or even being unable to tie shoelaces, are all lessons that young children, as well as adults, must learn in order to function normally in society. Sesame Street helps people deal with the everyday strain of life, and leaves them feeling better about themselves after doing so.
    In a world where the parent-child relationship is often strained because of a lack of mutually enjoyable activities, Sesame Street creates a window for children and parents to be involved with one another. The program provides something to interest every audience, a way for parents to spend more time with their kids and to take better notice of their children’s interests, and vice versa. A way for children and their parents to bond before it’s too late, as is too often the case nowadays.
    Sesame Street provides access to educational material that some young children in other countries could probably never experience otherwise. In more well-off countries, such as the U.S., many people take the education system for granted. It is unfortunate, but true. People of all nations need to realize the importance of education and continue to find ways to share it with even more people. Even in the case of Sesame Street, 120 countries is a huge accomplishment, but it is still not enough. Higher education must be realized worldwide. Education is the only way to ensure a safe and secure future for all of mankind.
    Speaking as a longtime fan of the series, Sesame Street was always been intriguing because of the fun, light-hearted spirit with which it was projected on-screen. The immense magnitude of its purpose and effect were never truly realized by just watching. It is through comprehensive research that understanding of the whole is achieved, and the show can then be enjoyed to its fullest, as it will be enjoyed from this day forward. :excited:
  15. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Wow. That's just... wow. Excellent. Very excellent paper! I cannot critique it! If I were your teacher, I'd definitely give you an A+!
  16. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

    Same here.
  17. Ilikemuppets

    Ilikemuppets New Member

    You did a really nice job, Jenn!:)
  18. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Oh! FANTASTIC paper! I loved it! Glad I could provide a quote for you! :D
  19. thanks everyone for the feedback i really appreciate it :) unfortunately, i haven't gotten any comments yet from my teacher, so i'm a little bit worried. but grades are coming up, so i guess i'll hear about it then. once again, thanks lots everyone!;)

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