Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Don't Want to Live on the Moon

Confession: when I'm sitting at the computer, I sometimes play random classic Sesame Street songs on YouTube, clicking on whatever pops up afterward. I find them really comforting.

I am disappointed, however, that I've yet to find two of my childhood favourites. One was a song about a little girl in Alaska getting dressed to go outside. She was like, "Put on my [native term] to stay warm and dry... Because it's [something that sounded like Ookie-ook], really cold outside." She put on about fifty layers of clothing, and I loved the words so much.

The other was designed to teach kids not to waste water, and asked the poignant question, "Are you a waster-oo?"

Bigger confession: I still cry every time I watch this video.

When I watch these old clips, I'm struck by the overwhelming messages sent out by them.
You're special.
I'm proud of you.
You can do it.
What you're doing/feeling/thinking is normal.
We're all in this together.
We're lucky to be here.

It's easy to tease the earnestness that these shows portray. But are any of these messages not ones that kids need to hear over and over again? Aren't they messages we'd all like to hear over and over again?

I'm really sort of bothered by the type of "educational" kids programming I'm seeing these days. It seems so focused on teaching children parlor tricks like names of classic painters and random foreign words and opera tunes.

I just have to wonder if it's somewhat indicative of our shift in goals as people. Don’t we all brag about our infant's neck control, our 18-month old's potty training, our 3-year old's reading, our 8-year old's long-division? And those are great things. But if these sort of things are the only that we focus on, aren't we setting ourselves up to someday have a world of adults whose only concerns are one-upping the rest of humanity?

Maybe I just have an unhealthy obsession with children's television.

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