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Sesame Street's Effect on Prejudice

Discussion in 'Sesame Worlds' started by Traveling Matt, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt New Member

    Northern Ireland Kids Learn Prejudice Early

    Courtesy of Yahoo News

    BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) - Roman Catholic and Protestant children start learning to fear and loathe each others' communities as young as 3 years old, a newly published study found Tuesday, blaming parents and Northern Ireland's religiously divided school system.

    "The surprising thing is how quickly these attitudes start to be expressed, almost as soon as they can talk," said Paul Connolly, lead author of the report based on questioning of 352 children aged 3 to 6. "You could imagine children drawing some of these distinctions at age 10, not 3."

    Connolly's research team found that boys and girls from the British Protestant and Irish Catholic sides of society are absorbing their communities' prejudices by age 5, when they enter elementary schools that keep them almost entirely segregated in two separate systems. Only 4 percent of primary-age children in Northern Ireland are educated in religiously mixed schools.

    "Our results, frankly, condemn the overall structure of Northern Ireland society," said Connolly, a University of Ulster sociologist. The Englishman, who lives in religiously polarized north Belfast with his wife and three preschool children, says they'll soon face tough choices about finding "neutral" schooling.

    The study, conducted by the University of Ulster, was commissioned by the government-funded Community Relations Council, which tries to promote better relations between the communities.

    The survey at 44 elementary schools and nurseries throughout Northern Ireland involved showing children pictures and objects, and asking them what they knew about each and whether they liked or disliked them. Subjects with sectarian connotations included Irish and British flags, Protestant Orangemen parading, different soccer teams' uniforms, and Catholic girls in an Irish dancing class.

    The approach mirrored a 1999 study of the attitudes of Israeli and Palestinian children, which was commissioned by Children's Television Workshop in New York. The makers of "Sesame Street," the workshop produced an Israeli-Palestinian joint television venture in Arabic and Hebrew, in which peaceful coexistence was key.

    As with the Middle Eastern research, the Northern Ireland report concluded that youngsters in divided societies need specially designed educational packages to counteract the parochial prejudice of their immediate environment.

    "If young children are encouraged to appreciate and respect diversity then they may well be less likely to develop negative attitudes in the future," the report concludes. "It is certainly far better than simply leaving children to learn about other communities from their peers."

    This was the first study of its kind in Northern Ireland to analyze the opinions of the extremely young. Other research in the past three decades of political-religious turmoil has focused on older children, and particularly the trauma they have suffered from witnessing violence.

    Connolly said he hadn't expected the youngest children to draw clear tribal distinctions, but some 3- and 4-year-olds already did — and added derogatory commentary unprompted. He said many more interviewees probably held back sectarian opinions, because they were talking to strangers.

    "I like the people who are ours. I don't like those ones because they are Orangemen. They're bad people," the report quoted one 4-year-old Catholic girl as saying when shown a picture of the Protestant organization on parade.

    "Catholics are the same as masked men. They smash windows," suggested a 4-year-old Protestant girl, when discussing whether she knew what a Catholic was.

    Connolly said the two groups of children expressed statistically significant preferences when presented with the red, white and blue British flag versus the Irish tricolor of green, white and orange. Among 3-year-olds, 64 percent of Catholics already preferred the Irish flag, while 59 percent of Protestants favored the British.

    "The fact that we've got 3-year-old children developing attitudes like this shows that you shouldn't dump all the responsibility on the divided schools. Some responsibility clearly lies with the family and local community," Connolly said.

    But he said the divided schools appeared to exacerbate sectarian opinion. "The proportion of children making overtly sectarian statements rises exponentially in ages 5 and 6, the two first years of formal schooling," he said.

    Another part of the survey found that Catholic children preferred Irish names — Seamus, Fionnuala and Sinead — while the Protestants disliked those in comparison with Protestant-preferred names: Craig, Alison and Stewart. This tendency increased with age.

    - Billy :cool:

    Let's hope CTW can do more joint television ventures like the one in 1999
  2. sstVideo

    sstVideo New Member

    Global initiatives from Sesame Workshop

    As it happens, the Workshop is currently in pre-production for a joint Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian show whose overriding educational theme is mutual respect and understanding differences.
    Funding has also been approved for a second season of Takalani Sesame in South Africa, including a large radio component for a country wherenine out of ten children have no access to pre-school education and there are nine official languages!
    The Workshop has also co-produced shows on conflict resolution in Macedonia and Cypress.
    In the months ahead, there will be more news about a global initiative on mutual respect. Its too late to change most adults, but not too late to teach the world's children.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It's nice to know that kids in other countries will learn respect and tolerance from Sesame (whatever it is called). I just hope the adults (parents and such) don't fill their heads with hatred.

    Though there is some intolerance here, Sesame tries to teach the same State side, as well. I remeber an episode this season in which one of Big Bird's bird pals refuses to play with Snuffy, and doesn't want to associate with any body but Birds. He soon reaslise that creatures (Birds, Monsters and even Humans) are all basically the same, and that shouldn't keep anyone from getting along and co-operating.

    I just wish some adults would learn that too.

    P.S. when was the Israeli-Palistinian Sesame Street officially released? I remember there were Shalome Sesame specials in the 88 and 92!
  4. Sidebottom

    Sidebottom Member

    Sounds like a job for Fraggle Rock! :)

    Chow mein,

    "I had always thought the world was full of mystery,
    I had seen so many faces that were strange.
    And it sometimes seemed that each one was my enemy,
    And I said our fighting ways would never change.
    But I learned to see my brother in my enemy,
    And I learned that we are none of us alone,
    For a found a friend who's different and she cares for me,
    And I know a place we share can be our home.
    We are the children of tomorrow,
    Each one is different and the same,
    Help us to live here with our other, our brother,
    One in heart, one in hope, one in name!"
  5. Amen! Bring on the DVDs! :D
  6. sstVideo

    sstVideo New Member

    Israeli/Palestinan Co-Production

    P.S. when was the Israeli-Palistinian Sesame Street officially released?

    The shows were aired in the spring of 1998. Yes, despite critical acclaim and educational effectiveness it has taken four years to get the countries to try it once again.
    The segments were produced by both Israeli Rechov Sumsum and Palestinan Shara'a Simsim and aired on Israeli and Palestianian TV. For more info go to http://www.gabrielmedia.org/news/mideast_muppets.html

    Now, thanks to Queen Noor (former US citizen Lisa Halaby) Jordan has gotten involved and there is a 3-way production in the works.
  7. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    >>>The approach mirrored a 1999 study of the attitudes of Israeli and Palestinian children, which was commissioned by Children's Television Workshop in New York. The makers of "Sesame Street," the workshop produced an Israeli-Palestinian joint television venture in Arabic and Hebrew, in which peaceful coexistence was key.<<<

    A new joint sesame project in the middle east is being made? I didnt think we'd be seeing this anytime soon, with Israel Gestapo style destroying the lives of Palestinians and bombers blowing up Israelis daily. When I heard about the joint Israel/Palestinian Sesame thing I was so impressed.

    I think its so breathtaking how Sesame has helped transform a culture here int he states, every single person in the US I think was raised on Sesame, at leats those that turned out fine;)

    I am so grateful to live in the states. Here we just have the subtle racism and occational office clerk shoot out.

    But man...its sad to hear its 2002 read about the mind formation and ideas still permeating in Northern Ireland(theyre the SAME religon, why do they hate eachother?) or the middle east. sad sad sad. These people need to go back to kindergarten and learn how to behave like civilized 5 year olds.

    Thank goodness for Sesame being around for over 30 years.
    This world is a better place because of it, and JH's vision.

    ...now if only they can get Sesame into more countries, this world would really be better off. (just look at the above article that started this thread)
  8. Gonzo

    Gonzo Active Member

    Well, if anything can change the world, Sesame Street can--but even the Muppets have a hard time going up against a 3000-year old conflict. Our racism and even Irelands schism is small potatoes compared to what's going down in "The Holy Land."

    Teach the children well.

    The first african-americans I knew were Gordon, Susan, and Olivia--that's changed by now of course, but I honestly think that pleasant early association helped to subvert any racist tendencies that I may have had without Sesame Street--

    Hopefully Sesame will do some more good to help other pups out there.

  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    If you think about it, religions are all practically the same. They're supposed to promote Peace and Love. If you don't see where I'm getting at, this is a bitter, bitter irony! Most die-hard religious followers (up to fanatics) misinterpret things. Look at Monty Python's the Meaning of Life, and the scene with the Catholics (if any of you are offended by this , I am turely, truely sorry, and I don't want any of you to hate me, I'm just bringing up a point). ANd look at the Bible Belt, where everybody hates those of same gender lifestyles (I have two aunts that are, and they are very decent people), and some weirdos blow up hospitals that practice abortion. while, over seas, the Israelis and Palestinians are fighting over two of the most ludicros things to fight over, religion and possetions. I view this like I view two fat drunks in a bar fighting over who's team is better (Sox or Yankees, whatever, I don't get involved with sports). It's meaningless, useless. First of all, religion is supposed to teach the evils of greed, and that means claiming land. Secondly, I'm not sure, but I think most religions say that killing is wrong, and we should respect everyone, even our enimy (should we have one).

    I just pray that if anything, one show will at least cover the gap, and bring people closer together.

    Besides, people sometimes hate others, but most of us here at least take it in stride, grit our teeth and keep it to ourselves. (I'm not saying this is good, but at least no one gets hurt or killed.)
  10. statler&waldorf

    statler&waldorf New Member

    Well I agree that most religions are basically the same, but the way most of them are taught is completely wrong, so I don't get to involved in it. But in Northern Ireland, they see Catholic and Protestant as being very different things, and they do have a few different ideals. It just maks me sick that people can be so ignorant as to hate those that are different. Just because you disagree, does that have to lead to hatred. I think not. But others don't see it that way, and it's a real shame. But I'll just have to hope that maybe Sesame Street will help smarten them up.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Just one thing. I heard that some Palistinians teach kids to reject Western Culture. And since Sesame is western, do you think that parents let them watch it?
  12. sstVideo

    sstVideo New Member

    That's the reason for doing a CO-production, and not just a dubbed version of the American Sesame Street. The Palestinian production is produced there, written there, and shot there in their own language. (Although Sesame Workshop gives them American classic inserts to dub, they are free to use or not use them as they wish). The Workshop also contributes technical advice and advice on media effectiveness.

    Even in South Africa, where English is one of the official languages, the English is dubbed so it comes out with a South African accent to distinguish it from American programming. If you haven't seen Bert and Ernie do their thing with that sort of dutch/english accent, its a real treat!
  13. sstVideo

    sstVideo New Member

    From the July 2 issue of the International Herald Tribune:
    MEANWHILE The long road to peace starts at Sesame Street
    By Barry James (International Herald Tribune)
    Tuesday, July 2, 2002

    PARIS: A question for world leaders: In a crisis should you 1) send in the Marines? 2) Send in Kofi Annan? 3) Send in the Muppets? The last is the least likely option, but according to the Sesame Workshop, which is behind the puppet characters, it might be the most effective in the long run.


    "We are not monoculture. We are not Disney. We are not seen as an American company dumping values," Knell said in an interview. "We are taking and promoting values from other societies as well."

    Knell said the Muppet world, rather than being a fantasy realm for young viewers, is meant to be a window on reality, introducing pre-schoolers to difficult concepts like conflict, loss, death or even Aids
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Thanks Vid-man! It's very informative!

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