1, ah ah, 2, ah ah, 3, ah ah (is that how you would type that?

Controversial take, I do not like the Muppets, which also results in me not really being a fan of Sesame Street. I don’t know what it is, but those little puppets (or in the case of Big Bird ABSOLUTELY GINORMOUS) always kind of freaked me out a little bit. Maybe that’s how the Postman feels. Like who actually sends Muppets mail? Just adding extra work to this person’s career.

*Edit: I have come to realize he is not a real Postman.

In all seriousness upon a little bit of research and diving into the subject matter it seems that Postman is getting at the idea that Sesame Street undermines education because of it being a television show that students can’t interact with. The quote the sticks out to me from a chapter review of his work states, “Televisions are not teachers—they cannot be asked questions, and they cannot hold conversations. Postman notes that no education is complete without this social element. If a child can read, write, and count, but cannot converse, question and socialize, then he or she is not properly educated”

I understand where he is coming from, but I also think it depends on the subject matter, depth of the topic, and general age range of the viewers. If I want to learn the alphabet from a bunch of Muppets, why can’t I? Do I really need to ask the deeper meaning like “Why does B come after A?” No I don’t think I really do. To me the purpose of Sesame Street is to help teach kids the basic fundamentals, which we can then build upon in school. I feel that most of the education in Sesame Street isn’t really trying to get you to ask the deeper questions, it is providing you the base information that you can then utilize when a child is ready. We can’t converse, question, and socialize if we don’t know how to read, write, and count. Without skill building you cannot apply. Or dare I use the world SCAFFOLDING.

*Insert me only thinking Sesame Street showcases basic stuff just to be hit with this video during my research

When we think of modern AV systems, I can see why Postman could potentially have similar beliefs. From the presentation last week the caricature of the teacher who relies on movies to do teaching might be the prime example of this. I don’t think showing film here and there is a bad thing, but if all you do is just play a movie and don’t do anything with it, this is where Postman would really have an issue. However, if you used it to either showcase some basic facts or present a situation related to learnings and then do something about it after, like a project, class discussion, further research, etc., I think this is where it could be quite helpful in the classroom. I teach in the secondary setting where students typically already possess the skills to be able to further breakdown a topic with discussion. We will watch something, but we do not leave it there. I have the students ask questions, provide reasoning for events happened, and allow for discussion. If we were to just rely on the AV presentations, this is where it could, in Postman’s eyes, undermine education.

To summarize the previous paragraph, AV technologies can be a tool to help someone along to a destination. If we always treat the AV representation like the destination, well this is where a lot could be left to be desired. We need to use it to go along with our deeper understanding. Not just have it be the understanding.

Khan Academy and Crash are tools that are great because they have been designed for anyone to access in the general public. The audience isn’t just directed at students. There is a generality behind it and it aims at presenting facts. To the everyday member of society this can be intriguing enough and maybe they bring it up to a coworker and say, “hey, you’ll never believe what I just learned about ancient Egypt” and maybe that sparks some kind of conversation. But the point of these videos is not to undermine education, it is to try and provide information (cough Education cough) to the general public. I don’t know if anybody should really be gate-keeping what is education and what isn’t in this scenario. Could someone further this learning by following it up with questions and research, sure, but it’s not really the point of these types of videos. However, we could use these videos in the class, as they are a solid foundation, and then go from them in a direction to increase deeper learning for our students. The videos aren’t inherently bad, it is just how we utilize them.

See below for one of my favourite Crash Courses:




2 thoughts on “1, ah ah, 2, ah ah, 3, ah ah (is that how you would type that?

  1. Hey Greg, great post. I appreciate your use of humour in post as well! I can relate to your commentary on Bob “Flix” Henderson and his movie watching. I use videos and movies in class but it’s the activities/conversations that happen before and after that impact what the students will take from the content. For some students, a video may be the only way for them to experience the situational learning depending on the context or situations presented.

  2. Your blog post offers an engaging and humorous take on Neil Postman’s perspective regarding Sesame Street and its potential impact on education. Your exploration of Postman’s concern about the lack of interaction in television-based education is insightful, and your counterargument, emphasizing the fundamental role of basic education in platforms like Sesame Street, adds depth to the discussion. The analogy drawn between Postman’s concerns and the modern use of AV technologies in classrooms effectively highlights the importance of incorporating these tools as aids rather than endpoints in the educational journey. Your nuanced view on Khan Academy and Crash Course acknowledges their informative nature while emphasizing the need for educators to guide students towards deeper learning. Overall, your post strikes a balance between humor and thoughtful analysis, making it an enjoyable and informative read.

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