Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 45th Birthday Sesame Street!

On this day, November 8, 1969,  also a Saturday,
Sesame Street debuted as a half hour sneak peek of a radical new show 
that was set to begin airing on Monday,  November 10.
(Important Note: Kermit and Cookie Monster appear at 21:00)

Sesame Street changed the way preschoolers learned. It was one of those crazy liberal experiments that required government spending and grants from private foundations, which allowed people of all different backgrounds equal footing with all kinds of Muppets, where they lived side by side.

It was radical enough that Mississippi tried to block the program due to the integrated cast.

Within a couple of years, ETS reported that the children who watched the show most learned the most, and achieved better results in letter-recognition skills. Three-year-olds who watched regularly scored higher than five-year-olds who did not; children from low-income households who were regular viewers scored higher than children from higher-income households who watched the show less frequently. Similar results occurred in children from non-English-speaking homes. Although adult supervision was not required for children to learn using the material presented, children who watched and discussed the program with their parents gained more skills than those who did not. Children viewing the show in an informal home setting learned as much as children who watched it at school under a teacher's supervision. Regular viewers adjusted better to the school environment than non-viewers. They also had a more positive attitude toward school and better peer relations than non-viewers. ~ Lesser, Gerald S. (1975). Children and Television: Lessons From Sesame Street. New York

From Newsweek's coverage on the 40th anniversary "How Sesame Street Changed the World": "Before Sesame Street, kindergartens taught very little," says Cooney, "and suddenly masses of children were coming in knowing letters and numbers." Independent research found that children who regularly watch Sesame Street gained more than nonviewers on tests of letter and number recognition, vocabulary and early math skills. One study, in 2001, revealed that the show's positive effects on reading and achievement lasted through high school. "It totally changed parental thinking about television," says Daniel Anderson, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts.

If you were in the first generation of Sesame Street's demographic, you remember songs like "Someday Little Children (We'll Be Living On the Moon)" and the fact that Mr. Snuffleupagus was never seen by everyone except Big Bird. To wit: 10 Classic Sesame Street moments We Wouldn't Show Today's Kids


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