As someone as interested as much in the sorts of people we as a society think valuable as in the processes that we use to produce more of those we value, and fewer of those we don’t, I was was struck by a brilliant post last week at Like a Whisper on a topic that might not be suspected of raising deep points about both these values and how we shape people to realize them: Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary. Like many people born in the past 50 or so years, I grew up on a steady diet of Sesame Street, initially in black and white in the back streets of Broken Hill, and later in full colour in the beach-laden northern suburbs of Perth.
I remember, quite vividly still, a particular episode that has made its way into family lore. My parents had decided that they needed to make a break from a gritty mining town in the outback of Western New South Wales for somewhere that at least had grass (really), or even water in visible supply, and took me on a trip with them east, touring through the eastern part of the state, through Tamworth (my first sight of real greenery), Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, and all the way up to Lismore, before torrential rainfall ended any more northerly ventures. While in Coffs Harbour, Sesame Street was doing its usual share of child-minding while my folks got on with other things. We were in some very cheap motel that included a coin-fed television, what we might think of as the early version of pay tv. Continue reading