Sesame Street: A Legacy of Education and Entertainment - 16:1 - An Education Podcast Sesame Street: A Legacy of Education and Entertainment - 16:1 - An Education Podcast

Episode 98 - (How We Got to) Sesame Street!

December 7, 2023

Media & Entertainment

Sesame Street: A Legacy of Education and Entertainment

Sesame Street, the iconic children’s television show that has entertained and educated generations, is a cultural phenomenon and a staple in American households with young children. Created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, Sesame Street aims to spark curiosity in children (and adults!) through engaging television content that utilizes the best of what network television has to offer while remaining true to its educational aims. The show’s innovative approach combines live-action, animation, and puppetry to teach basic concepts like letters, numbers, and social skills. Sesame Street isn’t afraid to tackle difficult and sensitive topics either; it deftly addresses issues such as death, diversity, and interpersonal conflict in a way that is both informative and age-appropriate.

The show’s success is undeniable, with more than 4,600 episodes produced to date and countless awards and accolades to its name. Sesame Street has also been lauded for its groundbreaking use of puppets, particularly the beloved creations of Jim Henson. Characters like Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster have become cultural icons, transcending language and cultural barriers to connect with children worldwide. Sesame Street’s impact goes beyond entertainment. The show has been instrumental in promoting social change, advocating for diversity and inclusion, and addressing important social issues. From its early days as one of the first network shows to feature an integrated cast to its recent episodes highlighting cultural differences and promoting understanding, Sesame Street has consistently pushed boundaries and sparked important conversations.

Sesame Street, under the stewardship of the Sesame Workshop (a non-profit entity), continues to evolve and adapt to the changing media landscape. While facing competition from streaming services and other digital platforms, the show remains relevant by embracing new licensing models and distributing on new platforms. The show’s commitment to educational excellence, social responsibility, and inclusivity continues to inspire generations of viewers. This was the most fun we’ve had researching an episode in quite a while– for good reason! Thanks for tuning in.

Sources & Resources:

Britannica – Sesame Street

How We Got to Sesame Street, by Jill Lepore (The New Yorker)

The Unmistakable Black Roots of ‘Sesame Street’ by Bryan Greene (Smithsonian Magazine)

Sesame Street – Wikipedia

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (HBO Documentary)

Joan Ganz Cooney Center

How Many Blimps Are Left on Earth? (Mental Floss)

Image credit: “Vintage Ad #762: Can You Tell Me How to Play, How to Play With Sesame Street?” by jbcurio is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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