…for Education, evolution, equality and emerging.
Postman wrote: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
Upon some digging, I discovered that this quote appears in Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death” from 1985. While he may have re-used the idea in a later context, I am going to examine the quote from that ‘historical’ context and bring it into today.
Evolution of Education
If we consider Education ‘historically’ (from 1985 going forward) there are many layers of schools, and how they ‘were’ versus how they are.
If we look at it from an Administrative standpoint – that was when principals were the ‘boss’ of the schools, they subscribed to a different style (Instructional approach to leadership) in which they were in charge of the teachers and were responsible for the success (or not) of the school based on how they ‘directed’ their teachers and punished the students. (so glad my other class is enabling me to make these connections!)
We’ve made a shift into “transformational leadership” (in theory) where more admin is focused on the inspiring, team building perspective of working together, and utilizing the strengths in our buildings to achieve a vision.
We’ve also experienced a shift in the teacher realm (in theory), that we are no longer on an ‘island’ alone and unsupported in achieving curricular outcomes and success for the students in our room. Not only do we have an increase in the other professionals (SLPs, psychologists, OTs), we have seen an increase in collaboration and team teaching (enter my biased plug for teacher-librarians).
In addition to these shifts and how schools are run, we have seen an increase in technology development, an increase in availability in schools, and (in theory) an increase in the use of these things within our schools.
“Empirical research has indeed shown that exposure to prosocial programs can result in beneficial effects on children’s attitudes and behaviours in areas such as cooperation and the reduction of stereotypes” Shalom M. Fisch
This is an example of how the evolution of technology, especially in Education can be used to bring people together. This is it’s potential, and whether we are considering television programs, movies, software or allowing our students to connect on a global front, we are using technology in education to expand horizons and garner a better understanding of others and for others. But are there negative repercussions as well?
So what of Postman’s assertion that Sesame Street undermines traditional schooling?
To me, I think he is referring to the need to re-examine how ‘school’ is done, and to think in different ways to engage and educate students. While I don’t think Postman was a complete luddite, there is a chance that he said Sesame Street undermines traditional school in the sense that he felt traditions were being threatened.
Currently, I believe Postman would feel as though Education was unduly falling into the technology ‘trend’ without considering implications of using technology. He would likely question what the downside of using this technology is, how children are being affected by the use of technology.
That being said, how would Postman react to the shifting philosophies mentioned in the other areas of education? As a whole our society has shifted, especially in the Educational realm with technology, and as such, we need to be questioning the appropriate use as well as considering the implications of technology use within schools.
What benefits do students garner from this technology? What are the downfalls with technology? Who benefits, and who is left behind? Does BYOD mean equality for all? Who’s ‘voice’ are we limiting with these things?
While you consider these things, another thing to ponder is: how does the introduction of technology affect our thought patterns and the ‘evolution’ of humans?