Last Saturday, I was sitting on the floor at an Inspire meeting when an idea came to me. Ideas often come to me at Inspire meetings. It’s impossible to be surrounded by that much potential and not feel your creative juices flowing.
Inspire is the new name of the leadership group that I was accepted into at the beginning of this semester. It was a pretty big deal, because they only took four sophomores. I was honored to be chosen.
I like to think of my Inspire meetings as pseudo-United Nations meetings. I call them my UN group.
Is that politically incorrect? I’m never sure these days what’s acceptable and what isn’t. But I can’t help myself. At meetings, I’m struck by how much we look like a handpicked cast of ethnically diverse children for some kind of children’s television show. We’re so representative – it really is wonderful to get so many different viewpoints during meetings – but it makes me smile. Kind of like I’m a part of a collection.
BUT – it’s a good thing. I love these girls to death, and we always have the most stimulating conversations at our meetings. The goal of Inspire is to help empower young women leaders of the future. Juniors do research papers that they will present at conferences, on a variety of issues relevant to women. MinAe, for example (the lovely girl in the I Love New York t-shirt) is putting together research on declining fertility rates in developing countries. Chrstine (the tall one in the back, standing next to me) is doing her research on the portrayal of women in comic books. It’s completely fascinating, and so exciting to me to be a part of a group filled with some of the most intelligent young women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I’m hoping to focus my research next year on either women and disabilities or women in Russia and the growing need for rape crisis counselors, as women feel more empowered to speak out against sexual violence there.
You know, as Kelly once said about me – I just don’t do light reading.
But I digress. It’s Saturday, and I finished both of my Social Work papers yesterday – so I’m entitled to a digression of two.
Last Saturday, I was sitting on the floor at the Inspire meeting when something completely random came to me.
Where is the Sesame Street for college students? Once you’re done laughing, I’ll continue.
I told you it was random. Although I think it had something to do with Schoolhouse Rock, and a discussion we were having about how the education system fails at fairness for young girls. Either way, I hastily scribbled this note into my notebook: Sesame Street for college students? Why not? WTF?
I think it’s a brilliant idea. Go along with me here for a minute. Pretend that you don’t think I’m crazy.
As children, we are taught things with music, and bright colors, and repetition, and big, memorable characters. I dare any one of you who grew up watching Sesame Street to tell me that you don’t remember at least one episode. The annoying music, the songs… they stick. That’s why Schoolhouse Rock is effective.
I can STILL sing the Preamble of the Constitution.
But sometime in middle school, things change. They stop using catchy tunes to help you remember things. They don’t send people dressed in silly costumes to teach you life lessons anymore. They just give you textbooks, and tell you to read. And I have to say, for those of us who are primarily auditory learners, that isn’t always a great thing. They stop drawing pictures for you and tell you to go home and memorize lists instead.
Where are the nursery rhymes? Where are the funny cartoon men? Why, pray tell, can we not help our young adults learn the parts of the brain by inviting a giant yellow bird to sing them a catchy tune?
What I have in mind would go something like this. The show would start with a foreign language word or letter of the day. This episode brought to you by the word КНИГА. КНИГА means BOOK in Russian. “Every day, Johnny reads his book.” «Каждый день, Джонни читает свою книгу». Book. Книга.
(And for those of you yelling at me right now because you don’t know how to pronounce the Cyrillic alphabet – that’s K-knee-guh.)
Then they’d go on to to do the alphabet song in the language of their choice. I’m obviously partial to the Russian here. They would get a few dancing chipmunks to come along and hold up pictures of the letters while singing.
(Did you know, Russian Sesame Street is how I learned the Cyrillic alphabet? If you’re interested, check it out HERE. It’s a real gem.)
Then would then incorporate a math section. They could cover such things as imaginary numbers, or basic calculus. They would use large, stackable counting blocks to demonstrate how things worked. The muppet would wear glasses and a pocket protector.
Cut to a scene where they interview someone doing some kind of job. Civil Engineers. Historians. They could include a cute little cartoon that demonstrates soil erosion models in an urban setting. And a song. There MUST be a song. This is important.
And while we’re at it, let’s not forget all of the life lessons that must be taught by Sesame Street. Young children are shown how to catch balls and tie shoes, and taught how to speak politely to adults. In my version, life-sized muppets would demonstrate such skills as learning how to properly do one’s own laundry and financial planning. With a catchy little jingle entitled “The Lonely Red Sock.” Then Big Bird and Elmo would demonstrate proper bar etiquette. How to tip. How to order. What to do when your friend has one too many B-52s and passes out cold.
Just think! Teaching about alcohol poisoning and the effects of date rape drugs through Big Bird.
Then they’d finish up with a rousing song about self-esteem and what to do if your friend, who is failing all of his classes, suddenly becomes homicidal. They’d have one more round of the word книга just for good measure.
People would hate it. There would be death threats put out against the scary and annoying muppets singing about foreign language. (If you don’t believe me, go watch an episode of Spanish Sesame Street. Ten minutes in, you’ll want to kill the little bastards too.) But people would watch. Like a train wreck. Like Jerry Springer. Like the idiot walking across Martin Luther King while KICKING A SOCCER BALL. They’ll watch. And they’ll remember. And it’ll be the new craze.
Suddenly, everyone will know all about soil erosion, because there will be a song, and people will sing it – and we’ll all be so sick of hearing it that we don’t know what to do, but like the Macarena, it will be too late.
I don’t know. I think there’s potential here? Who’s with me?
And now, I’m off to do some laundry, hopefully while humming a few bars of “The Lonely Red Sock” and trying to remember the lessons that I learned from it.
Laundry diversity is bad.
Red socks should stay together.
(This is how you can tell, by the way, that Barbie is a moron. Everything she owns is pink. CLEARLY she didn’t pay attention to the Laundry Song.)
This post brought to you by the word КНИГА. Book. Книга. K-knee-guh.