April 24 – can you tell me how to get…

274/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Both my parents were immigrants to Canada – my dad in the late 50s and my mom in the early 60s.  They had good enough English skills to be able to get by quite well in the new Western culture that they found themselves in; however, they chose to speak to me and my sister in Punjabi and thought that it was the school’s job to teach us English.  Our elderly next door English speaking neighbours encouraged my parents to let us watch Sesame Street in our pre-school years as they convinced my parents that our oral English language skills would be that much better entering Kindergarten – and they were right.  I remember watching Sesame Street in the mornings – at that time I recall a 3 to 4 hour block of it and then a further hour or so in the early afternoons.   I can honestly say that I was enthralled with the show and what I was learning (although I didn’t know I was learning).  I practiced every word and letter and just sat there – literally in front of the tv (I think I have bad eyesight because of how much I watched).  I remember Oscar, The Cookie Monster and Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and the humans (Bob, Carol and the multitude of others).  I’m sure I subconsciously picked up on the ethnic diversity of the cast in addition to the conscious educational aspects.  I don’t have any hard facts but I really feel that watching Sesame Street gave me the academic edge in elementary school equivalent to those kids who go to preschool.  I also feel that the show gave me confidence in my abilities and that not having English as a first language did not pose a hindrance to my learning in any sense as I had Sesame Street there as my private tutor.  I believe that without Jim Henson’s muppets and the multitude of producers, actors and puppeteers, I would have had an added disadvantage in life.  Whoever says that tv is not educational, I would have to disagree – it can be if the right programmes are watched by the right people – academic learning does not have to take place just in a classroom, it can take place in one’s living room.  Thank you Sesame Street for giving me a very fair advantage that made all the difference in the world for my abilities and my confidence!

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