03 Everything You Need To Know About Creativity You Learned on Sesame Street

Kermit and gang helped Vanessa build a strong comedic foundation. They’ve done all right by the rest of us, too. Here’s why the ever-innovative show is still the first word on creativity.

FTP_Issue_03_web-13Well said, Rowlf. It’s a simple concept, but in 1968, this was a controversial new convention: children’s television programming as an educational tool. Sesame Street was a true mash-up, PBS-style: television producers and educators working together to marry curriculum planning, television production, and rigorous academic research evaluation.

For 40 years and counting, Sesame Street and the Muppets have been teaching by entertaining: literacy (ABCs), numeracy (123s), health, emotional well being and respect. Then and now, the challenge is the same: one must hold children’s attention to fill them up with juicy knowledge. Sesame Street is always one step ahead, researching what grabs kids’ interest, changing the format of the show to match changing times, technologies and attention spans.

But key concepts remain: modeling, repetition and imagination. These themes form the foundation for effective education. And they’re also the tools kids need to express themselves—to be creative. The themes come up again and again in our conversations on creativity for The Fire Theft Project.

Modeling? Do the stuff others are doing until it’s uniquely yours. Repetition? Do a lot of it until you’ve mastered it. Imagination? Break conventions and tensions. Be ridiculous. Use humor. Flex the imagination muscle.

And if you don’t fit in (it’s not easy being green, after all), keep going: “Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.”

Sesame Street by the Numbers
FTP_Issue_03_web-12 copy