Friday, October 5, 2012

PBS: So much more than Big Bird

So, normally I try not to get too political on this blog because I am concerned about offending potential customers and missing out on business opportunities. Politics have become so divisive in the U.S. as of late that it is a real concern for me. But something I heard during the debates Wednesday night (which I listened to while I was taking pictures for my blog) stayed with me. The idea of PBS losing its funding just makes me sad. It's so much more than Big Bird. I think of my formative years, and how much of my television viewing time was spent watching PBS, and how much I learned from it.

There were shows that made learning math fun.  Whether it was counting to twelve,

or learning the fundamentals of geometry.

And watching the opening credits to Reading Rainbow makes me want to step away from the computer and pick up a book.

Watching the opening credits to Mystery, which I still kind of wish could be a show in and of itself, got me interested in mystery and suspense stories.

Sesame Street's "Two little girls and a little dollhouse" made me want to have a dollhouse, and furnishing my dollhouse as a girl led to my interest in interior design.

And finally, there's Bob Ross, the man who taught me how to paint clouds and trees.

I was blessed to have had excellent teachers and well-educated parents, but the combination of music, animation, and storytelling from educational TV helped to make these lessons stick. And for kids who don't have access to the advantages that I did, it's even more critical.  Also, consider the fact that educational programming is not just for kids. Learning, after all, is a lifelong process.  And with formerly educational networks get overrun with mindless reality shows and the History Channel focuses on the present day, PBS is really one of the last reliable sources of intelligent life on television.

I wrote a little story once about the gentrification of Sesame Street. Big Bird and his neighbors lost their homes. It was supposed to be a satire. I'd hate for it to become reality.

Last month when the Chicago Public School teachers were striking, many of their picket signs said "If you can read this, thank a teacher." While I am grateful for what my teachers taught me, I must give credit where it's due. I actually learned to read before I started school. You know who taught me my ABC's? Big Bird.


  1. Great list of old shows! Thanks for taking us back in time! Wow, seeing the Bob Ross remix just makes me want to look for his show on youtube..

  2. Thanks! I think there are a few episodes of The Joy of Painting on there. And I think it's also available on DVD.

  3. I love what you said about learning being a lifelong process. That's so true. Man, I used to watch Sesame Street & Mr. Rogers & Reading Rainbow like every day. (I think Bert and Ernie's apartment actually sparked my interest in interior design, lol.) Now, as and "adult" with cable, PBS is still one of the stations I watch the most. I think there's something about having it on that just feels so comforting.

    When I was a kid, my mom used to call in a donation during the pledge drives, and my sister and I would wait for them to read off our names on tv, lol. The boyfriend & I still donate when/what we can. I think we both just grew up learning you were supposed to help Big Bird. :) The fact that anyone could turn their back on a foundation that's actually brought so much good into people's homes... man, sometimes this country is just sad.

  4. "I think we both just grew up learning you were supposed to help Big Bird." I love that, Carmen! I used to give money to NPR back before I got my art studio. Once I make some big sales, I hope to start doing that again.


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