This week we are to reflect upon the following statement by Postman, “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school ony if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
I grew up in the age of Sesame Street,and to be honest, given the chance to watch it or actually go to school and be with my friends, to read, to play, to participate in real life… Hands down I would have taken going to school any day. I was a third child so never watched much TV and to this day I would still take doing something social as opposed to something in front of a screen. Real life experience, human contact, laughter, connection is something you cannot get from any sort of technology, Sesame Street included. I believe Sesame Street was a program that could aid a teacher in their lesson or give a parent a quick break without feeling guilty but in the end I feel my teachers and parents had way more of an impact on my learning and my life than Big Bird. Like any sort of AV, it was a tool to help with instruction, not to take the place of instruction. I honestly don’t remember some of those big moments like the death of Mr. Hooper because I never was invested in it. What mattered to me were the people and experiences around me.
However, I do understand what Postman was getting at by stating this. Sesame Street, and other educational programs entertained kids while teaching them at the same time. They had all the bells and whistles a kid could ask for- singing, dancing, puppets, famous people etc. Things that a normal classroom could not possibly have on a day to day basis. Therfore, children (and parents) always want school to be “fun”. Let’s face it, we don’t have the tools or the funding to be that entertaining in our classrooms every day. And… to be honest, if we had 6 hours every day of that high energy entertainment, it would be exhausting and tiresome, for both the student and the parent. Postman believed that if students were raised on television they would expect this type of entertainment in school. And let’s face it, this cannot be done. So if you think your class is boring, that is totally ok. I think it is ok for students (and adults) to feel bored. To unplug and have no entertainment. We are so used to being entertained all day every day that we need to learn to sit in boredom and be with ourselves in our own thoughts. This is beneficial.
As well, I do remember being at my grandma’s house and my grandparents put Sesame Street on for all of us kids (they likely needed a rest from us) and my cousins would be “glued” to the TV like zombies. They knew all the songs, including the French, by heart. That always amazed me because I didn’t have the patience to watch TV so I remember trying to figure out why they liked it so much. I would have rather been at the park or working on the plays we used to put on or building haunted houses in their basement. I didn’t like when they were “glued” to the tv because it took away from the interaction that I liked so much, which is also what I understand Postman was feeling. The students were just recievers of information instead of active creators, imaginators and in charge of their own learning and feelings.
I am grateful for all the audio visual technology we have in education this day and age. I am always excited to show my kids something new and to see where they go with it. I don’t know what I would do with out some of the visual, audio and AV equipment we have but it is to enhance my students’ learning, not to entertain them. I alsodon’t think they expect me to entertain them daily with technology… to be honest, I think they are just as happy to hear my oral stories of things I experienced growing up in the good ol’ days. They do however, expect me to provide a safe, caring, risk-taking environment in which they have some say and some active participation in their own learning.
Over this past month, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the kids say they are so happy to be back at school, and it is not because it is because they are entertained, it’s because we are together.
I am going to get quite personal in this blog because the episode about the death of Mr. Hooper hit home for me. On Tuesday, I have a student coming back to my room who lost his father in 2019 and this September just lost his mother. Apparently, he has not spoken a word since his mother died. I am worried. But in the end I think just being with his friends at school will be the best thing for him. It won’t be an episode on Sesame Street that gets him through. It will be playing Covid tag, hanging with his friends and doing normal things. It will be being with others in natural ways that help him.
It was really cool learning about all the different types of Audio, Visual and AV technology and how it advanced over the ages, escpecially reminiscing over the technology I used in my own career. I loved the visual of how technology advanced from the 80s until now. I continue to be amazed at all the new apps and technology that AV has provided to help our kids be collaborate and be creative. Tools like BookCreator, Nearpod, Googleexpedition can enhance learning to a whole new level. As I am a social person, I loved collaborating with Tammy, Caleigh and Tarina the most. I learn best when I get to work with people. It’s engaging and invigorating. And they all brought a wealth of knowledge. This is the best part of learning and ultimately the best part of living.
In today’s age, we are preparing our students for a different world than we ever lived in. A world where techology changes rapidly. I feel students need to know so much more than ever before so by being able to access tools such as Kahn Academy and YouTube as a supplement is beneficial. I don’t feel it will never replace a teacher. Like the book, Why do I Need a Teacher When I Have Google by Ian Gilbert states,
“as teachers, our role in twenty-first century learning is to be able to filter good knowledge from bad, apply it, synthesize it, be creative with it, add to it, know which bits to use and how to remember key parts. Add to that our role in helping students develop communication skills, creativity, curiosity, ability to collaborate and network, build confidence, perseverance, sense of right and wrong, and have the ability to deal with adversity. In other words, all the other things that computers cannot do” (p.24).
It also hit home that technology is changing at such a fast rate that teachers must use these tools effectively and purposefully and like Nicolaou, Matsiola &Kalliris (2019) state in the article Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching Methodologies through Audio Visual, “education must be continuous and must be focused on ‘learning
to learn’” (p.9).
So to sum it up, we need to use technology in meaningful purposeful ways. We need to not worry if sometimes our lessons or content is boring to kids because that is ok too. But what we do need is powerful, meaningful daily connections in a safe, caring, risk-taking environment where kids know that everything is going to be ok.