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Questionably Educational SST Skits

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by minor muppetz, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I thought I'd start a thread on segments that hardly have any educational value.

    It seems like most segments about baths, especially songs, don't really teach much. They seem to just encourage taking a bath. I didn't notice any educational content in Ernie and Bert's first skit from the first epsiode. Though in part 2, Ernie sings Everybody Wash, which is sort of a play-along song. And the word "Wash" appears on screen. And I have recently noticed that the "W" is in a different font than the rest of the word, and it actualy wiggles. I wonder if this song was subliminally advertising the letter W (which seemed to be the highest-paying sponsor for the first episode :) )

    I can't really tell what Rubber Duckie is supposed to teach. And is Do De Rubber Duck supposed to teach kids that they should dance in the bath tub, and have as many of their friends dancing in the tub with them at the same time?

    It seems like most dancing segments don't really teach much. Perhaps they teach creativity, since many dance numbers feature dances created especially for the songs.

    Are the sketches where Ernie talks to Bert about his day at the zoo,a dn the sketch where Ernie has a weird phone conversation that ends up being the wrong number, supposed to teach anything (I haven't seen those sketches)? And I can't realy think of any educational value that appears in Sesame Street News: Rupunzel.

    It seems like some of the early song covers just barely have educational value. In the middle of Octopuses Garden, the singer takes the time to point out that an octopus has eight legs, and counts them. I don't know whether As I Was Going to St. Yves was a cover or not, but in that one, the boy holds up a number seven throughout the song, though it doesn't really teach the number seven (he mentions several things that there were sevedn of in his song). And what the $^& is Mahna Mahna supposed to teach? It also seems like Lulu's Back in Town doesn't realy teach anything. I guess it could teach kids about fear, though the singer doens't fear Lulu at all, and the people who are frightened by Lulu don't ever get over their fear. And is Windy educational (I know that there's a non-US version on You Tube, but an english-language version is a bit hard to come by)?
  2. anytimepally

    anytimepally Active Member

    I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, I *hated* taking baths.. a lot of kids hate taking baths, in fact, and these songs are meant to show kids that bathtime can be fun :p
  3. I don't think that every sketch should be purely educational. There needs to be a fun element too to keep kids entertained. The educational clips should seemlessly blend with the non-educational clips so that kids don't realise they are learning.
  4. Katzi428

    Katzi428 Well-Known Member

    Well I think w/the "wrong number" sketch,it was demonstrating feelings. And "Everybody Wash" was probably talking about parts of the body everyone should wash. With "Rubber Duckie" I guess Ernie's saying how much fun it is to take a bath.Same w/"Do de Duck". (although I myself wouldn't want my friends in the tub with me;) )
    I'm just guessing at all these things.I'm not a child psychologist or anything.:)
  5. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well it is important for kids to understand the importance of washing and taking baths, especially when most of them dread the event, hehe. And like Katzi said, it names the different parts of the body. And yeah I do think the wiggling W was supposed to be a form of advertising, lol, since they were trying to copy the style of commericals.

    And the Rapunzel news sketch introduces young kids to the story, probably for one of the first times (though in a slightly twisted way!)
  6. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    Well, I think some of the sketches and songs that have little to no educational value (like "Mahna Mahna") are supposed to teach kids some about imagination- but mainly just to teach kids to have fun!
    Everything doesn't have to be a life or school lesson! There are times to take a break for recess out on the playground!:) :crazy: :D
  7. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    I agree--although most of Sesame Street is supposed to be educational, some of the early sketches were thrown in just for fun. Gonzo's comparison with recess during a school day is dead accurate, in my opinion; besides, Sesame Street was partially inspired by "Laugh-In"! :)
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've read that during the early years the writers would get a book on the shows curriculum goals, and after writing a sketch they would look through the book to make sure that the sketches had something relevant to the curriculum.

    Another sketch that doesn't seem to have any educational value, though I've only seen it in The Sesame Street Book of Puzzlers, is one where Ernie is upside-down on the ceiling, planning on pouring a glass of milk, with Bert saying that you can't pour milk upside-down, but Ernie manages. I know that those early books didn't include word-for-word dialogue, so I'm not sure if there was any educational value missing from this sketch in the book, and I don't think anybody here has any memory of ever seeing that sketch.
  9. DTF

    DTF Member

    that could be to teach the concept of right-side-up versus upside-down, though - that's the thing with some of these sketches, they have a very good knack for doing thigns in an implied way, whereas today it's a little to a lot less subtle.

    Of course, depending on the wording of the scene, I could be wrong about teach that concept. I don't recall it.

    The banana in the ear, though, which was my favorite growing up - I don't remember anything except "Ernie, you've got a banana in your ear," and "I can't hear you, I've got a banana in my ear." So, I couldn't say either way on that.

    It wasn't as necessary then, so this probably wasn't the reason, whenever it came out. However, I can't help but wonder, if they want to encourage activity, why they don't just play more dancing stuff now. Because when I think of Ernie doing "Dance Myself to Sleep,' the *first* thing I think of a kid diong is wanting to copy that dance. You may be right that the dances back then were probably to teach creativity, though.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, as Julie Andrews once sang. That is what was revolutionary at the time about SS (other than the integrated races being the human stars, which was also pretty revolutionary for that time period).

    You don't have to teach things 24 7.... after all, sometimes a good laugh is what kids need. Not to mention the fact the original idea was not only to make a show kids will watch, but a show thast their parents will watch as well.

    But I feel that the most important lessons come from the most unlikely sources. Bert and Ernie arguing can be a great example of many things. Logic, the fact that friends can fight, difference of opinion, and various other things. the Song I Love Trash may not seem educational, but it shows that people can like different things that other people may actually hate. Plus it also shows that it's normal to have a prized possession, especially when your youngwer, to constantly carry around (same thing about the song and posession of Rubber Duckie).

    It is indeed times when you aren't thinking that you tend to learn more.
  11. HeyButtahfly

    HeyButtahfly Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I suppose Ernie and Rubber Duckie can be compared to Big Bird and Radar, or Betty Lou and her doll (whose head kept falling off LOL), or Elmo and his blanket and doll David.
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    For some reason I never questioned the educational value of I Love Trash.
    DramaQueenMokey likes this.
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Looking at the CTW Archives "first seasoon show content" files, this is listed under self-esteem, though I can't really figure out how the sketch relates to self-esteem.

    I noticed that sesamestreet.org lists the educational "subject" for these (and many songs that to me don't appear to have any real educational value) as "music, art, and creativity".

    At the time I posted this it hadn't occurred to me that this sketch taught planning skills (which is the subject listed for the clip at sesamestreet.org) nor did it occur to me that it sort of taught the concept of "louder".
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Loking at the "Miscellaneous Muppet Inserts" paper from the first season show content, it appears that that was part of a four-part sketch involving milk. So I guess it was teaching about milk, though not part of the first season curriculum.

    And Street Gang mentioned a few times that all sketches must be both entertaining and educational.
  15. 26MICHAEL

    26MICHAEL New Member

    One of the things funny to me with no "educational value" was when they had the rocket countdown and something would always go wrong. Water shooting out the top, premature ignition, it would fall over, etc. I guess it did teach... If at first you don't succeed...I guess it also mimicked our own space program, which ironically went to the moon the same year SS premiered.
  16. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

    I don't know about all that has been listed but a lot of them may have value.

    I mean you're teaching kids how to count backwards which has been done other times.
  17. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

    That last statement is pretty funny.



    I think some skits were just for fun and not everything that SS has done over the years was ofr educational value.
  18. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    You know for the first time ever I actually watched the clip on Youtube today, and saw that it had an introduction that I wasn't aware of. I always thought the song began with the characters singing (that's how it starts in The Street We Live On). Of course I don't ever remember seeing that segment on the show (only in specials and documentaries, which shorten the clip).

    But judging by the introduction, it seems like maybe it was trying to teach cooperation. It starts with the two girls wanting to sing but for some reason needing a third singer (too bad it doesn't use this opportunity to teach counting or adding). Then the Mahan Mahan character shows up, saying Mahna Mahna (which they seem to be weirded out, in addition to just happening to know that it's a song, before they start singing).
  19. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Tough Pigs had an article about an event that Frank Oz spoke at, and Frank Oz mentioned that when the Rupunzel sketch was being taped, Oz asked Jon Stone what the sketch was teaching, to which Stone asked, "Who cares?"
    heralde likes this.
  20. fuzzygobo

    fuzzygobo Well-Known Member

    A few others that were fun to watch, even if they didn't teach much:

    Carmen/singing orange- used to scare the crap out of me, but you could possiby file under "Music Appreciation"

    There was a Hubley cartoon posted on youtube a few years back called "Jungle Abstracts" that showed a black cat chasing a bird through a very pop-art looking jungle, until the cat got scared off by a lion. Again, this was intense when I was little, but I learned to like it as I got older.

    Another Hubley clip showed a blue cat chasing a brown mouse (looks like a poor man's Tom and Jerry). The mouse dashes into his hole, but the cat slams face-first into the wall.


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