I Want to Be a Teacher! I Want to Be a Veterinarian! (Sesame Street)

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Views Read Edit View history. Languages Add links. We see children figuring things out.

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As in school, we hear children responding, without much animation or imagination, to leading questions put by adults. But we rarely see them figuring things out; in fact, we rarely see children doing anything. On two recent programs, children did a dance shown them by a grown-up, followed grown-ups in bringing cardboard hoxes so that Big Bird could make a tower of eleven of them, played a dull same-difference game with shoes, and sat mute while the grocery-store keeper asked them a question that none of them could answer.

In one episode, two children played a game with a jigsaw puzzle as big as they were. But most of the time when we see children on the program, they are standing around, often looking uneasy, while an adult shows or tells them things, or asks school-style questions to which he obviously already has the answer. In spite of its visual medium, Sesame Street is still strangely aural. To be sure, there are plenty of images, film clips, animated cartoons, dramatized stuff with the Muppets, and so on, and some of the time the pictures do carry the meaning.

On another, there was a good clip about the postal service showing what happens to the mail which is picked up, taken to the post office, sorted, canceled, sent to where it is going, and so on. A child listening to the program but unable to see it would get 90 percent of what he was supposed to learn. The screen is almost never used, as it might be, convey ideas, information, relationships that cannot be conveyed with words—ideas that would be of far greater subtlety, complexity, and power.

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Caleb Gattegno, in Towards a Visual Culture , has suggested what some of these might be, and many of the ones I propose here draw on his thought. This is a great pity. Sesame Street , for example, puts great stress on the alphabet and on learning to count to ten, or more recently, twenty. What we must do in helping anyone learn to read is to make very clear that writing is an extension of speech, that behind every written word there is a human voice speaking, and that reading is the way to hear what those voices are saying.

Like the schools, Sesame Street far too often blurs and hides these truths. That is all the more unfortunate, because TV can make the point more clearly and vividly than a teacher in a classroom. Suppose that children were to hear a voice speaking and at the same time see the words, as they are spoken , appearing in print.

Cartoon figures and the Muppets could have word balloons over their heads, as in comic strips, a convention which many children already know; even when live figures are speaking, the TV screen could be split, with the words appearing at the side—a TelePrompTer in reverse. From a recent program comes an example of something done extremely badly that might have been done well. The letters OVEL do spell something. They spell a word that anyone who can read can pronounce.

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But then followed something worse. In fact, there is nothing self-evident or natural or reasonable about it at all. We just do it that way. What might have been done instead? Here is one scenario. What is vital here, and in all reading, is the connection between the order in time of the sounds of the spoken word and the order in space of the letters of the written one. On a program presented one day by the letter X, another opportunity was lost.


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An animated-cartoon narrator was trying to think of words that ended with X. Then other words—box, ox, ax, with appropriate and clever pictures to match, but still no letters. We might then have brought in an O to make TOX. Here the cartoon narrator could have looked puzzled.

Perhaps a bit of business of looking up a word in a dictionary to see whether it has a meaning. This is nonsense. Whether a letter is a capital or not has nothing to do with size, but with shape. Indeed, the point should be made that a letter, capital or lower case, can be as small or large as we care to make it. We might show writing on the head of a pin, big letters on a blackboard, children writing letters in the snow, skywriting.

Sesame Street in Canada: A journey from A to Zee to Zed

A capital A is shown. A voice says that it is like an upside-down V with a line across. So far, so good. But why not show all the ways in which we can deform or change an A without losing its A-ness—make it taller, shorter, thicker, or more slender in the strokes, slanting left or right, and so on. Why spread the false and absurd notion that there is only one way to make an A? The kindly grocer puts on the counter three groups of three objects each and one group of four objects. Naturally they are confused.

That was followed by a devastating civil war, in which warlords drew lines based on their ethnicity and killed tens of thousands of people in Kabul alone. Meet Zari, our new friend from Afghanistan!

I Want to Be President

She's here to teach young kids about girls' empowerment! BaghcheSimsim pic. The Taliban took over in , and their five year rule was one of brutal extremism in which they banned women from work and girls from going to school, confining them to their homes. The radical Taliban regime was forced from power by the U.

Part of that project was the creation of a vibrant Afghan media sector, as well as repairing the education system and getting girls back to school alongside boys. The number of children in school grew from , in to 8. However, Afghanistan is still an impoverished country, with only 60 percent of its children in primary or lower secondary schooling, according to a January report by UNICEF on children living in conflict zones.