As a toddler, I was not much a tv buff. Without the intention of tooting my horn, I admit that I prefered to take my toys and play outside. Rain or shine, mud or sand, I was always ready to get dirty. That is not to say that I did not get any tv, when I did my attention was solely the captive of a work of genius, Sesame Street. While I cannot honestly say that I remember Sesame Street, I do remember that it trumped Barney (this was a huge subject of debate on the preschool playground) and that it taught me a lot, giving me both educational lessons and life lessons.
This year, Sesame Street grows up, finally going over the hill at 40 years of age. In addition to teaching, they’ve done a fair amount of learning about the world. This is good, because as teachers they can aptly prepare their students for the modern world; which Sesame Street tends to understand.
Last year, it was healthy eating. I lost sleep over Cookie Monster’s mysterious transformation to a health freak that chows down on fruits and vegatables; but eventually realized that I eat much more of nature’s treats than I do cookies. As I enjoy healthy eating, it was a sacrifice I am willing to make. This year however, Sesame Street is tackling another even bigger issue, the state of the world and our respect for it.
The problem with problems is twofold. The obvious problem is that they are problems; as the title suggests there is something that needs to be fixed. The second problem deals with the method of fixing these problems; it is very tough to mobilize adults to make solutions. There is a reason I specifically targeted adults. First of all, they should be the biggest agents of changed and second they tend to be the biggest obstacles. The reason for this is that they are so entrenched in their lifestyle that whatever change a solution requires is a burden. Therefore, it is hard for them to act. Across the board of age range is the complexity of problems. People tend to become overwhelmed by the environmental problems of the world; they are complex and scientific, with so many different factors intertwined.
Enter Sesame Street. Target audience: young children, just learning to draw, make friends and maybe even spell their names. Today they are going to learn something new: “The place we’re coming from is, ‘Let’s love and care for the Earth, because it’s so beautiful, and we appreciate its awe and wonder, and we’re going to respect it.'” The reasoning is, that if you love something, you’re going to want to take care of it. Sesame Street is not going to dwell on global warming or deforestation; it’s going to teach kids to plant gardens in their yards. Kids will be able to identify different types of bird they see.
With lessons about appreciating nature and realizing it is everywhere, nothing can go wrong. With Michelle Obama on the show, that is even more assured. With this curriculum, Sesame Street is setting the stage for the future. Unfortunately, the majority of the current generation of adults and leaders is too caught up with their lifestyle. You can’t teach an old new tricks. You can teach older humans many more new tricks than dogs, but much less tricks with a much smaller effect than teaching a child. With a child, it becomes their foundation and they work off of that. So with the foundation of love and care for the world, the future leaders of the world will have the tools and mindset to do what is necessary to save the world, to make the necessary sacrifices, to do all that is sufficient.
Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster. I applaud and thank you.