Who loved cookies more than you did as a little kid? Take a guess… that’s right, the Cookie Monster! The Cookie Monster is from Sesame Street, a popular show on PBS. Sesame Street is more than just a fun show for kids to watch. It was actually created to be educational and worth something kids should be watching. Another show on PBS that changed children for the better was Mister Rogers Neighborhood. In all of the events that were happening during the 60s, the two shows that positively taught and changed American childhood were Sesame Street and Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
The 60’s were a time when many historical things were happening. It was a time when the television started becoming popular, rock n roll music was blooming, and civil rights movements were being made. During the 60’s the Great Society became an important aspect of this time. Lyndon B. Johnson wanted to create a program with the goals of ending poverty, reducing crime, abolishing inequality, and improving the environment. Johnson was sworn into office after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Johnson wanted to end the poverty cycle and give people an opportunity to develop job skills, and further their education. While Johnson was in office he noticed that the two main groups of Americans who were uninsured; the elderly and the poor. While Johnson was in office he made medicare become a law. PBS is a non-profit corporation that was founded in the 60’s. PBS was made to teach and inform America about what was happening during this time. They wanted children to be included and getting the same information and so Sesame Street was born, as well as other shows like Mister Rogers Neighborhood to educationally and positively benefit kids.
Sesame Street was created in order to help prepare young children for their educational endeavors. The producer of Sesame Street stated that children’s television was a “wasteland” of something that was supposed to be entertainment. With Sesame Street, it was highly trusted to become popular, since it received an 8 million dollar grant from the“Carnegie Corporation, the Ford
Foundation and the U.S. federal government” (History) to be made. In order to become popular, Cooney realized that the show must appeal to even the children who already had good educational opportunities, since she wanted to gear it more towards those less socially and economically inclined at first. The show includes a variety of characters, which all teach different values that are beneficial for all–which was another one of Cooney’s main goals. She wanted the show to be able to be appealing to everyone–even older siblings and even parents–which is why “she suggested that humor directed toward adults be included” (History). Along with this, she “also believed cultural references and guest appearances by celebrities would encourage parents and older siblings to watch the show together” (History). Adding all of these elements to the main element of teaching kids was what made the show even more popular than it could have been. Many of the characters on the show, although puppets, were made to be able to connect with the viewers. Jim Henson, another one of the show’s pilots, said: “‘The Count had an obsessive need, and who doesn’t? Telly fretted, Oscar Kvetched, Ernie teased, Bert was anal, and Grover, like most of us, was, if not always a superhero, certainly above average’” (The History). The statistics in education were very positive because of Sesame Street. The author of the article, “How Sesame Street Changed the World,” said that kids’ test scores went up. She stated that “Independent research found that children who regularly watch Sesame Street gained more than non-viewers on tests of letter and number recognition, vocabulary and early math skills” (How). This shows how beneficial and successful the show became. Another study that she included said that the educational effects of the show even lasted children into their days in high school. Another positive outcome of the show was that it displayed how individuals of different social rank, economics, and race, all lived and conversed with each other in harmony. This was very beneficial for those kids who felt less socially and economically ranked in comparison to other kids. In the end, Sesame Street was and still is a very successful children’s show, benefitting all who watch it positively and educationally.
Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a way for children to understand what was happening during hard times. Mister Rogers was a guy who would talk to you about fun and important events happening in the world. He did it in a way where everyone understood. Mister Rogers sang songs to you and would have guest appearances on his show to keep you engaged. Sesame Street and other shows like this were based off of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. His television show was the stepping stone for all other shows like it. Mister Rogers had a, “gentle but honest approach approach to presenting hard topics was — in its time — a groundbreaking way to engage with children” (Mister Rogers). He was a man who could talk about a hard topic and still make it sound gentle and kind. He was able to get people though some of the hardest times from the 60’s into the 00’s. Some of these hard topics would consist of death, divorce, or even violence. Mister Rogers knew that there were many kids out there watching his show and he wanted to connect with not only adults but children too. He had a way of talking to kids where, “you didn’t condescend to the very young and that you could explain things to them” (Mister Rogers). He was very relatable with everyone and they all enjoyed him. His theme song “It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood” was one of those songs that you listen to once and it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the day. This show ended in August of 2001 right before 9/11. I am sure that if it was still on air during 9/11 he would have helped so many people with the loss of their loved ones. Sadly he passed away 2 years later after 9/11 battling stomach cancer. One of his most famous quotes was “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind” (Fred Rogers). Mister Rogers was a kind man who had a gentle voice and wanted to make everyone feel welcomed and loved. He never wanted anyone to feel left out or underestimated.
The 60’s were a time when the television became popular. Many people owned a television which allowed other people to communicate with the society through a new way. They were able to tell them about important events, and also informational shows started up. In 1963 Mister Rogers Neighborhood was one of the first shows to talk to kids and adults and teach and help them get through the hard times of the world. He was a guy who believed in kindness and wanted everyone to learn and be heard. Nowadays a more popular show for kids to watch is Sesame Street. Sesame Street is a television show that teaches kids new ideas and how to do different things. It also involves singing and games to keep you entertained. Many shows that are like this today have all been based off of the show Mister Rogers Neighborhood. All of these shows have allowed kids and adults to escape from what is happening out in the world for a moment and just enjoy the time with their kids.
All kids should continue to watch PBS because it is beneficial for them and tells them about skills that they may not know of. So many kids don’t watch PBS and if they did they would know so much more than they did before. Also, PBS is a non-profit organization, so any donations from the society are appreciated.
Article by Deanna Frack & Video by Kaitlyn Vannucci
Altman, Alex. “The History Of.” Time, Time Inc., 29 Dec. 2008, http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1868862,00.html
Burns, Asia Simone. “Mister Rogers Still Lives In Your Neighborhood.” NPR, NPR, 18 Feb. 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/02/18/584669284/mister-rogers-still-lives-in-your-neighborhood
Guernsey, Lisa. “How Sesame Street Changed the World.” Newsweek, 23 Oct. 2012, http://www.newsweek.com/how-sesame-street-changed-world-80067
“History.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/about-us/history/
“History of Sesame Street.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Apr. 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sesame_Street
History.com Staff. “Great Society.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2017, https://www.history.com/topics/great-society
Santomero, Angela. “I Admired Mr. Rogers as a Mentor from Afar – Now I’m Walking in His Sneakers.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 21 Feb. 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/21/admired-mr-rogers-mentor-afar-now-im-walking-his-sneakers-column/351804002/