Thursday, April 08, 2004

Sesame Street at 35

Noel Holston at Newsday manages to write 1300 words about the 35th anniversary of Sesame Street without once mentioning muppet creator Jim Henson. I haven't watched Sesame Street since Henson died, so I have no idea if the quality has been kept up. I am just enough of a stick-in-the-mud, though, to worry about paragraphs like this:

    [Executive producer Lewis] Bernstein says that every year about this time the people at Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop) "meet with educators, psychologists and psychiatrists and say, 'What are the needs that we really should be paying attention to?' After 9/11, it was teaching kids to use reason and be thoughtful and show empathy and verbalize their emotions. This year, we're saying let's think about health, let's think about nutrition, let's think about physical activity, since there's an epidemic of obesity in this country. Can we come up with fun ways to try to create messages for kids that are in their control?"

This isn't necessarily political correctness, but it sounds awfully suspicious. Given the fact that parents are increasingly using the television as a babysitter, I wonder how often the education crosses the line to indoctrination whether intentionally or inadvertantly. I am not saying it has, but I note a general tendency for an good idea to deteriorate when a creative genius like Henson passes the baton to a committee.

But the article ends on a point which I think is well worth making:

    "For many years, I personally was baffled at how come people didn't learn the major lesson of 'Sesame Street,' which is that you can entertain kids and educate them at the same time," Bernstein says. "We're happy to see that there are other educational options for kids now. It is a crowded marketplace, but there's still room for quality."

(Via Library Stuff)

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