Our Greatest Resource

‘…exposure to Sesame Street produced the desired educational effects. Those children who watched the program showed the greatest pretest-posttest gains, and the areas that showed the strongest effects were those that had been emphasized most in Sesame Street.’ -Fisch

As I try to unpack what Fisch is saying here, I can’t help but think about my own experiences with ‘Learning Programs’. As a child, I grew up with only two channels so the options for cartoons were limited. I remember watching shows like Sesame Street, The Big Comfy Couch & The Magic School Bus because my sister was always in control of the remote. Looking back, I remember counting with Count Von Count, telling time schoolbuswith Loonette, and learning Science with Ms. Frizzle. So, was I learning? Yes. Do I think I ever had expectations of watching TV or using tech at school? Not really. My parents
monitored TV time and ensured that even after school we were reading, doing puzzles or, most often, playing outside.

  Photo Credit: Vernon Barford School Library Flickr via Compfight cc

‘Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.’-Postman

I think what Postman is saying here is that students will have unrealistic perceptions as to what will happen at school. School is about structure and engaged citizens learning real life skills like patience, turn taking, and managing peer interactions in a social setting. These are all things that cannot be learned properly through a screen. Sesame Street, among other learning programs, portray school and learning as this fun, magical, and easy process but in school today we teach developmental skills to problem solve through the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult. Most importantly, students need to learn how to develop and manage personal and meaningful relationships at school with their peers. Although this may seem like an easy task from watching the show, the truth is that some students my struggle more than others to make friendships. Simply, it is not real life.


Photo Credit: pestoverde Flickr via Compfight cc

When looking at the push for BYOD and bringing smartphones to the classroom, I think it is important as educators to see devices as a resource, not a hindrance—it is, in my opinion, students’ best resource. Many teachers at my school have a ‘cellphone bucket’ or ‘cellphone jail’ as they like to call it—I. Can’t. Stand. This. Let students know what it feels like to trust them. When we take away cellphones, we are taking away responsibility. Again, it comes down to structure and when we build structure in the classroom, students will learn to use their phone as a resource and not just for a social device. As teachers, we can now reach a wide variety of learners to increase engagement. Before, it was such a burden to use resources by booking the computer rooms, or signing out the Encyclopedias. Now, our greatest resource is at our fingertips.


6 thoughts on “Our Greatest Resource

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Tyson!

    I too am against the ‘cell phone jail’ for the same reasons you describe! We need to be teaching our students how to be responsible for their phones in a respectful way, and as far as teachers and adults go, can we honestly say we’ve never pulled out our phones when we should be listening to something? I sat next to an adult just yesterday, who should have been listening to a presentation, but was in fact on their phone watching the jays game streaming… we are all dealing with the information age and having virtually everything available ‘within phones reach’, all of us need to learn how to manage the busy-ness of life, the connectivity of our phones, and how to be responsible with it all!

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree Tyson with your comments about letting students know you trust them. I find that oftentimes people behave like how you treat them. If you treat them like they won’t do something responsibly, then they probably won’t act responsibly. If you can show trust and encourage responsibility, students often rise to the occasion.

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  4. I have the same feelings about the “cellphone bucket”. I think that such an important part of learning and creating a positive learning environment is through building relationships. Having students turn in their cell phones is a quick way to create a barrier between educators and this generation of digital learners. I think if more teachers tried to be innovative in using tech as a resource like you mentioned, that trust may be more easily formed. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Very interesting thread regarding the cell phone bucket. I like that you trust your students enough to not have to confiscate the phones, and I am sure that you have many conversations with them about what is appropriate. I think it is important that children understand cellphone etiquette. I have seen many examples of university students having no etiquette at all. We have had to put “No Cell Phones” signs in our tutoring stations, because students were constantly on their cell phones during their tutoring appointments. I guess they just hoped that the tutor would edit their papers while they sat their on their phones. I am hoping that the next generation is more polite.


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