Sesame Street: All learning should be as engaging!

As a child, I do not remember watching much TV but I do remember watching snippets of Sesame Street and being enthralled with it. Shows like Sesame Street, Barney, and Mr. Dress Up were shows that hooked children and parents because of their educational offerings.

Melanie shared in her blog post the ultimate goals of Sesame Street. She shared from the book “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” that Sesame Street was created and geared towards young children and preparing them for school. The goal of Sesame Street was to “create a children’s television show that would master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.” I think this quote is very interesting as it shows how writers and parents knew that AV right from the beginning would be addictive to children so they began looking for ways to use this as an educational tool while still allowing it to be entertaining for children.

sesame street muppets GIF by HBO


When we were children audiovisual technology was really just beginning to make its way into homes. As Postman states, parents had less guilt allowing TV to seep into their homes when it was educational and they knew that it would teach their children something. Sesame Street was known to be engaging, educational and geared towards preparing young children for Elementary School. Parents were happy to let their children spend time watching TV as they felt that it was, in fact, helping to educate them as they were watching TV.

Sesame Street had the goal to help children to love school or so we believed. How could children not love school if the school was going to be anything like Sesame Street? Sesame Street was highly entertaining with lots of singing, dancing, colors, characters fully engaging children in learning. This is how a school is and should be, correct? Postman begins to challenge the idea that schools are not engaging like Sesame Street and that Sesame Street may, in fact, undermine the ideas of traditional schooling.

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Photo Credit

Educational programming such as Sesame Street really did challenge the traditional approaches to teaching and learning. In many cases, the behaviorist learning theory was a prevalent approach to teaching during this era when Sesame Street was first introduced. They were now beginning to challenge the traditional schooling with an engaging program where children were learning and were entertained at the same time. This shows that children will, in fact, learn best when they are interested and engaged. These beginning days of AV meant that now the traditional teaching methods in schools were being challenged as students now had access to other ways of learning that was fully engaging and not just lectured on to them.

Schools then had the challenge of incorporating AV into the schools to keep up with this change. With Audio-Visual being a part of students lives at home in order students to be engaged in learning a teacher lecturing is not going to warrant their attention like the use of Audio-Visual will. Over the years with AV becoming so widespread and children having access to it at very young ages schools needed to begin to make this shift in using AV in teaching. We now know that there are many benefits of using AV technology in teaching and learning. Not only is it engaging for students but it also allows them to take their learning beyond the immediate classroom. It allows them to connect with and learn from others all over the world.

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Photo Credit

Students today use their devices non-stop. Some studies show that students spend upwards of four out of school hours a day on their devices. Although this may seem outrageous we have to realize that this is the reality for our children. So as teachers we have a responsibility to teach them how to properly engage with technology, teach them boundaries with technology and teach them how they can use technology to further their learning. Using technology in the classroom is highly engaging for students. As teachers, we need to use this to help engage students in the learning process. This engagement is beneficial to their learning experience and in return they are building on the technical skills that will help them be successful in the 21st century. This is a win, win in the classroom. As teachers, we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and overcome our uncertainties and barriers with technology to ensure that our students are highly engaged and practicing the skills that they most definitely will need in order to be successful in their futures.


About cdegelman

Grade 3/4 teacher at Douglas Park School in Regina, Saskatchewan
This entry was posted in EC&I 833. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sesame Street: All learning should be as engaging!

  1. danieldion1 says:

    I share your sentiment that the goal of Sesame Street was to make kids love school. I would extend, their goal was to get kids to like Sesame Street. This infinite loop seems to be at the base of the show’s incredible popularity. Also, agree with your stance about the undermining of education, how can we as teachers with 30+ kids, almost no prep time and almost no resources compete with the expectations created by a program such as Sesame Street.

    Thanks for your insight.


  2. kylaortman says:

    I grabbed a quote from your post… “Postman begins to challenge the idea that schools are not engaging like Sesame Street and that Sesame Street may, in fact, undermine the ideas of traditional schooling” — I still use youtube videos that sing in order to reach student about the water cycle, biomes and more. There are students who moan and groan but in the end they are all singing! We have the power to create engaging environments with song just like Sesame Street. Check out the Water Cycle Rap –


  3. courosa says:

    This may be my second comment here – the first one may have failed.

    In many ways, Sesame Street was a huge influence on the way that kids saw the role of school and how learning should look. It was interesting also that the learning on Sesame Street was also embedded with at least some sense of family, community, and social justice – this wasn’t just a method, but a strong message within the framework of the programming.

    With your last point, I wonder what “engagement” looks like today on an app vs. the shared experience of television. Obviously, that depends given what app it is – but I think the concept of engagement changed forever with the advent of Sesame Street, but was also redefined again with the personalized experiences of apps (and all the behavioural coding that came with it). It’s an interesting time and there’s absolutely no doubt that early educational programming like Sesame Street have sustained a lasting impact on school today.

    Thanks for a great post!


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