A Guide to Public Television Instructional Programming
There are few programs offered on public television that do not, in some way, offer a chance to learn. Specifically, the childrens’ programming on public television has always been educational in nature. There is no better example of this than the childhood staple, Sesame Street.
Set on a fictious street in New York, Sesame Street has managed to entertain, and instruct, millions of children over the years. Each segment of the show has a didactic purpose, and each show has both a theme letter and theme number.
Human characters on the show interact with various puppets, actually called “Muppets” and costumed characters. The shows focus on the theme letters and numbers, but frequently there is a conflict of some sort and the characters work towards resolving the conflict in a non-aggressive manner. Other topics include social awareness, tolerance and cultural diversity. People of all ethnicities interact with Muppets of various sizes, shapes, colors and personalities in an attempt to teach how we can all live and work together.
Each show is divided into short, limited segments specifically geared to younger children. Dancing, singing and high-energy skits intersperse with the short, didactic segments, and research has shown this to be an effective way to teach children.
Clearly, Sesame Street is a foundational education program.