Same Difference: Sesame Street

Sesame Street was a good place to go to look for archetypes. Definitely. But the idea of Mr. Snuffleupagus not being seen, and all the other characters disbelieving Big Bird when he tried to share the knowledge of his existence stressed me out to no end. The Grover/waiter skit, when he kept on having to go back into the kitchen to get the missing letters for a customer’s alphabet soup, was also cause of numerous nights of insomnia.

     But this is not my main concern. What I wonder now is how the educational and cultural practice of pointing to learning and identifying (in a Western framework) “same” and “different” continues to fold into a inclusive/exclusive social practices. For instance, the song, “One of These Things is Not Like the Other”…. I’m not so sure that the cultural practice of identification on the basis of similarity and/or difference serves us (socially) well. If we consider race, gender, sexuality, ability, age, size, etc. these are all ‘categories’ that can be divided up on learned ideas of sameness and difference– but is this a socially generative practice?

     Certainly sameness and difference is the basis of taxonomy, for instance. I cannot argue that notions of sameness/difference does not have relevance and/or significance in decoding our world and experiences…. (If we cannot perceive the difference between a fire and a non-heat-generating light source we could be burned.) 

     But I wonder how we might think of the ways we teach “same” and “different”, especially to our young people… and, well, maybe do it a little differently. <crooked grin>