Is Kermit a strange name in America

50 years of "Sesame Street"A bit anarchistic and educationally valuable

In the beginning there was dismay. Film producer Joan Ganz Cooney was stunned that while American children could sing a TV commercial promoting beer, they couldn't say their own last name when they started school. That was in the mid-1960s, when America was THE television nation. Children watched 50 hours a week, but were shown nothing but mindless cartoons.

Cooney wanted to change that and founded the non-profit Children's Television Workshop with psychologist Lloyd Morrisett. With the help of educators and educational researchers, they wrote a 40-page curriculum with learning objectives for preschoolers. A first implementation for television was on view on November 10, 1969.

That was when "Sesame Street" premiered. The setting was spectacular: a street in the big city, smoking gullies, clattering garbage cans and loitering children who let strange monster dolls explain the world to them: from Kermit, the frog, Oscar, who lives in the bin, Count Zahl, a letter smuggler in the Trench coat, Ernie and Bert ... The wild dolls wrapped grammar in jokes and sang: "Which number comes after the two?"

World stars as people like you and me

Children learned arithmetic and spelling from them as well as tolerant behavior. Because the world of the adults who appeared on Sesame Street was just as diverse and colorful as the realm of the dolls: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Americans with white skin - a multicultural society, as it was shortly after the murder of Martin Luther King in was not accepted everywhere in the United States.

(Zach Hyman / Sesame Workshop) New character in Sesame Street / Autism easily explained
As of today, the US edition of Sesame Street has a new resident. The doll Julia is a girl with red hair, a pink dress - and with autism.

The sound of the colorful life in this street was provided by show celebrities. Ray Charles intoned "Be‘ Green "and told how important it is to feel good in your own skin. Harry Belafonte and Susan Sarandon sang the alphabet, pop star Kylie Minogue languished at the frog Kermit and tenor Andrea Bocelli helped the hand puppet Elmo fall asleep. World stars as people like you and me. That is also a message for the children.

The concept - a bit anarchistic, but educationally valuable - worked, and Sesame Street was immediately successful. The children especially kept the puppets created by Jim Henson and adopted from his successful Muppet Show in front of the screen. Only a few educators discussed whether the rapid sequence of cuts might not trigger epilepsy.

The beginning of Sesame Street

There were also isolated objections in Germany when Sesame Street was taken over by a few third programs there in 1973. One could not compare the living conditions in the USA and in Germany, protested the Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Especially scenes that took place in a New York slum caused offense. How big the pop culture influence of Sesame Street has become can be seen from the ongoing rumors about individual characters. The fans debated whether their friends Ernie and Bert were gay, but this was never confirmed by the show's producers.

To this day, Sesame Street is the most successful children's program of all time, with more than 4,500 episodes already running in the USA alone. From Australia to Bangladesh, the format runs in more than 140 countries.

In doing so, you follow the zeitgeist and tackle hot topics. In the Israeli show, the puppets Mahmud and Noah promote understanding between Arabs and Jews. And the cookie monster has recently been getting apples and kohlrabi, and if biscuits, then only made from whole grain. However, the goal of becoming a support instrument for socially disadvantaged children was not achieved. All over the world, Sesame Street is seen primarily in families with an already high level of education.