Postman wrote: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
When I think of Postman’s quote regarding “Sesame Street” and it is undermining the traditional schooling of children. I found it hard to understand the implications he sees that it brings to education. I, as a child, loved to watch Sesame street and looked forward to seeing my favourite characters. I loved the letter of the day and then counting with the Count. I still enjoyed the show even after I became school age. I felt lucky if I was sick and had to stay home from school because I got to watch Sesame Street. According to Wikipedia, Sesame Street used a curriculum with measurable outcomes based on research. Each character was created to achieve these curriculum goals. Oscar the Grouch, for example, was designed to teach children about their positive and negative emotions (Wikipedia). The Letter of the Day was designed to teach children about a letter and words that start with it. The show has children counting, practicing their alphabet, and learning about real life situations. Why does this seem like a problem according to Postman? The idea in the production of Sesame Street was to sustain children’s attention and created this through the appeal of Muppets, catchy songs and celebrities. Thus made learning fun! The question then becomes the idea of entertainment vs education.
As a parent I allowed my son to watch television programs I deemed educational such as Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, Super Why, Dora the Explorer, and Dinosaur Train and a few more. These shows are all aimed at preschool age children but many primary school age kids also enjoy them. Parents want to make sure that these programs hold their child’s attention so they can have a moment to their self or to get things done. We do this guilt free with the hopes that they are learning a thing or two. Yes these shows all have an educational element to them but education is lost when we do not engage in the programs with our children. I think think this is where Postman’s quote comes from.
In Learning in the Age of Television, I saw the whole picture when Postman states, ” Whereas a classroom is a place of social interaction, the space in front of a television set is a private preserve. Whereas in a classroom, one may ask a teacher questions, one can ask nothing of a television screen. Whereas school is centered on the development of language, television demands attention to images. Whereas attending school is a legal requirement, watching television is an act of choice. Whereas in school, one fails to attend to the teacher at the risk of punishment, no penalties exist for failing to attend to the television screen. Whereas to behave oneself in school means to observe rules of public decorum, television watching requires no such observances, has no concept of public decorum. Whereas in a classroom, fun is never more than a means to an end, on television it is the end in itself”. After reading this article and specifically this paragraph the idea became very clear of why educational television programs undermine traditional schooling. It is the social interaction and personal engagement!
The idea of using “educational shows” to teach children is not bad but is powerless if we do not engage with what the show is teaching our children. It should not be a babysitter but a tool in our child’s learning. If we do not have conversations or ask questions how do we know understand what the TV show has taught our child or the value of the learning taking place.
Education is continually changing and the way we present information to students. This timeline that was shared during group presentation denotes the change of AV technology. The change from tech and a peripheral tool to tech as an integrated tool in the digital classrooms we all are a part of today.
When school went to online teaching and learning in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic all teachers had to change the way we teach. I had learn and find ways to get the information I wanted my class to learn us different educational programs. I used programs such as Khan academy to supplement the math I was teaching to my students. Students and myself f had to learn how to use Google Classroom as a way to learn. Prior to this I often used AV technology in my lessons. I used and continue to use Mystery Doug, Youtube videos, Kahoot and Crash Course in my lesson plan delivery. I feel it is educational but I am in charge of what I am showing my students. Some may thing it is just entertainment which I would agree with it is was just shown without purpose. So as Postman discusses you have to be the buffer in the interaction of material students are watch and allow students to ask questions and allow for discussion. Without this is takes away from the educational value of it and simply makes it entertainment.