Sarah Riley UNID 1129762
Is Sesame Street Educational?
I chose to write about Sesame Street. “November 1999 marks the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Sesame Street on American television. For 30 years, Sesame Street has entertained and enlightened children across the United States and around the world” (Fisch, Truglio & Cole. 2001). This is one of the reasons I chose to research Sesame Street; it has been around for so many years and I watched it and loved it as a child. I wanted to take the opportunity to be able to learn about what makes this show so popular. It has stuck around for years and is supposed to be very educational. I wanted to see if I could find what aspects make this show so successful. Is has also become popular in other countries over the years because it has so much success on being educational for children. Watching television is such a controversial topic these days in relation to children. This is another reason I wanted to learn more about what makes a television show a successful educational tool. If it was not providing high success rate in educating children I do not think it would be around as long as it has and produced in different countries as well and different languages.
Sesame Street was intended for preschoolers, younger children to get them ready for school. As well as low-income and minority children, to help them get ready for school. The goal of the show was to help prepare children for school; not just academically with numbers and letters, but socially with interpersonal skills, self-confidence and help build skills that would help children in a peer setting like cooperation. It was also to help with children growing up in low-income families who do not always have an equal opportunity to education, by helping them receive more of a chance to learn that does not cost anything. Among low-income and minority families there is a higher chance they will not get the pre-education to prepare them for school and social situations because their parents most likely are working more and are not around as much to provide as many learning opportunities. They also are most likely to not have as much access to higher quality learning toys and tools as some other children may have to help them prepare for school.
There have been many researches done with children who watch or have watched Sesame Street. The educational impact of Sesame Street was first documented in a pair of studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS; Ball & Bogatz, 1970; Bogatz & Ball, 1971). This study focused on children ranging from 3-5 year olds, some were encouraged to watch Sesame Street whether in school or at home and some were not. They studied 1,000 children and most of which were to be considered to have disadvantaged backgrounds. The study lasted 26 weeks, the children watched Sesame Street from about 1- more than 5 times in a week. Children were tested before and after the 26 weeks by extensive battery of measures that covered several dimensions: knowledge of the alphabet and numbers, names of body parts, recognition of forms, knowledge of relational terms, and sorting and classification skills. They found the more the child had watched the show had the greatest gains. These results ranged the same across all children in the study. The University of Kansas did a longitudinal study that was more recent and I found very interesting. They tested children at a few different ages over the years up into high school. When they tested these children in preschool they “spent more time reading and engaged in educational activities. In addition, these children performed significantly better than their peers on age-appropriate standardized achievement tests of letter-word knowledge, mathematics skills, vocabulary size, and school readiness” (Fisch, Truglio & Cole. 20011). University of Kansas and the University of Massachusetts conducted a study together of high school students who had watched Sesame Street when they were in preschool. The results showed the children who did watch the show had a significant impact on their academics in school. Those who watched Sesame Street had higher grades in math, science and English.
Sesame Street does not only show a positive impact on academic skills, but social behaviors as well. It helps children so much in their social environment. It helps them become more cooperative, learn their different social settings, work well with other peers, identifying other people’s roles in society and much more. This is another example of how it helps prepare children for school because it helps teach them how to react in social environments and work with peers. Sesame Street also helps touch on tough social situations and explain them in a way a child can understand without making it scary or complicate. This also helps parents learn to talk to their kids and explain situations to them. One of the examples of this in the article was death of a long-time character on the show and was a close friend to many of the characters on the show. Marriage, love, divorce, race-relations, adoption are a few more examples that the show helps explain along with much more.
Sesame Street has been around for over forty years now. It has expanded to Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Germany as well. I do not think it would have stuck around for so many years if it was not showing such great success rates. There are many researches done in regards to the show. I was not aware of all the many things Sesame Street teaches and helps children with. It is a very useful, educational opportunity for children and parents as well. It helps touch on difficult social situations to help parents in explaining and having a better idea how to handle difficult situations with their child. It provides children with social and academic skills helping to prepare them for school. If they do not learn as much academically it definitely helps children become more comfortable, prepared and aware for society and social situations.
Fisch, S., Truglio, R. T., Cole, C. F., (2001). The impact of Sesame Street on preschool children: A review and synthesis of 30 years’ research.
Here is a preview for a Sesame Street episode for numbers.
Here is Michelle Obama talking about the importance of healthy breakfast