CMNS 428 Analysis #1
Article: “Sesame Street and Educational Television for Children” by Anderson et
The title of the article by Anderson is “Sesame Street and Educational Television for Children”. As the title suggests, this article discusses Sesame Street as its prime example of television as an educational tool.
As the most successful educational television program for children, Sesame Street has attracted many criticisms. Critics argue that the qualities that make Sesame Street entertaining inevitably impede the educational process in children. Some critics even go as far as claiming that television is not a compatible medium for education, because it discourages careful thought, verbal representation and symbolic thinking. However, the author of this article noted that none of these critics have ever done any research that authenticates their claims.
According to Anderson, Sesame Street is successful educational television for children because it readies children for preschool education, especially those from poor families. The National Household Education Survey backs this claim. Anderson’s survey also reveals that preschoolers who watches Sesame Street regularly are more likely to be more able to count to twenty, identify primary colours by name, as well as show other signs of emerging literacy and numeracy skills than their counterparts who do not watch Sesame Street as frequently.
Another evidence of the increase school readiness among preschoolers who watch Sesame Streets comes from the Early Window research. Again, the test proves that children who view Sesame Street and other educational programs when aged 2 to 4 years old performed better on test of school readiness; literacy, number skills and language. Also worth mentioning is that Sesame Street viewers were also rated higher than non-viewers on school adjustment by their kindergarten and first-grade teachers.
The author of this article also linked educational television viewing pattern with high school grades. According to him, “the impact of watching TV programs designed to teach preschool children is apparent even through high school”. This, according to the author, is due to the provision of positive attitudes about learning by preschool informative programs on the minds of young children. This in turn ensures early success in school that is evident even when the child is in high school.
Given the results of experiments, the author is suggesting that children’s viewing habits of educational programs, namely Sesame Street has a causal relationship with their success in grade school and eventually high school. The one thing that I want to point out is that, the author and his cohorts did not do a continuous study on their subjects, leaving a ten to thirteen year gap between their studies without accounting for influential academic pursuits within that gap. The author also fails to mention if there were preschoolers who did not watch Sesame Streets as frequently but fare better in school than those who watch Sesame Streets more frequently or vice versa. Also, the author does not rule out the possibilities that other circumstances or factors have or may have affected a child’s grade; instead Anderson credits the early and high school educational success of children solely to Sesame Street. Hence, by reading this article, we are given the illusion that Sesame Street was the sole factor for child’s success in learning.
The author also did point out that most of their subjects were largely white and from middle and working class backgrounds. Therefore, we ought to wonder whether the results of his experiments and surveys transfer across cultures and languages.