why children shouldn’t have to ‘learn lessons’ from the arts

Whilst driving I often listen to the news on South Africa’s national Afrikaans radio service. On some days this is preceded (or followed – I can’t remember) by a children’s programme. The most annoying thing about these programmes is that there’s always a lesson to be learned: don’t do this, don’t do that, this is good for you, this is bad for you. It’s unfortunately also the case with a large amount of children’s and youth literature. Whatever happened to writers of these books/stories just letting their minds go wild, indulging in flights of fantasy? In my ‘not educated in the field of educational psychology’ opinion, a lack of moral lessons is more likely to inspire them to be creative.

This brings me to today’s video. It’s a cartoon aired in the late 1970s on the long-running American children’s series, Sesame Street. The score is by American ‘minimalist’ composer, Philip Glass (b. 1937), who is known by the general population for his scores for films such as The Truman Show and The Hours. I’m pretty sure the cartoon’s presentation of geometric shapes is not meant to be a lesson in mathematics – it’s more likely meant to be purely abstract. Glass’s repetitive music lends to it a creepy quality that supports my interpretation. And thankfully we don’t have to learn a lesson from the voice part.

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