‘…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 with 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.
‘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.
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.