By Miranda Barry, EVP, Creative, Sesame Workshop
My friend Willow is five. With her long, strawberry blonde hair she looks like a barefoot princess from the cover of a 1920′s children’s classic, except for her fashion sense involving mismatched socks, red velvet shoes and a pink, knitted coat thrown over a blue dress that’s sprinkled with flowers. Willow lives on a gravel road in the Maine woods and three weeks ago she went to school for the very first time.
Before the BIG day, Willow was nervous. Her parents built her a brand-new big-girl bed with shelves up the wall for her favorite books and toys but she said she’d sleep in it after she started school. Like most of us, she wanted to draw out the last, sweet light of summer on the water, the “who cares if we stay up late” and “let’s go fishing” rhythm of summer days. But the day came and Willow went. Her parents cried all the way home.
After school there was a torrent of information: “Teacher took us all around the whole school and we learned about shapes and then we went outside and we played…. I want to go to school tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and every day from now on…. But what about Christmas? Do I have to go to school on Christmas?”
Once Willow was reassured about school on Christmas, she couldn’t wait for tomorrow. School was wonderful!
Watching Willow start this new phase of her life reminded me how lucky I am to work for children. Children are not jaded. Every day is the first and only day of its kind and it has magical powers to transform mundane, in an instant, to marvelous. Meeting a new person (or a class-full) is marvelous and so is learning shapes and so is playing house or climbing the slide ‘til you’re three times your usual height. Children can expect marvels!
The set of Sesame Street is a place of marvels. When will.i.am or Michelle Obama come on the set, it is thrilling for them too, to step, suddenly, into their childhoods. There is fun on the set but what the writers and producers and amazing puppeteers strive for is to ignite the unique potential that comes with every child. Willow may not need Sesame Street’s new scientific investigation curriculum as much as some children – she already knows more than I do about tides and where to find baby shrimp and crabs or how to cut down a tree and build a table – but she will love using big, new words and watching Super Grover 2.0 try to get over the Pretty Good Wall. And I can see her now, stomping her scarlet shoes in time with will.i.am’s “I’m Just Getting Stronger.”
When kids turn on our content on TV or online or wherever, they are ready for adventure and delight. How lucky we are to be able to give it to them!