Those of you that know me or watch our videos, will know that I am a total bookworm. Whether it’s a book about the financial markets, psychology, biographies or even something left-field like quantum physics – I’m all over it.
I thought I’d start a series of short posts about the books I’m currently reading, with a couple of paragraphs to explain why I’ve found it interesting or insightful. Nothing too long, just a quick summary…
One of the books I’m reading at the moment is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
Although I’ve read this book before and a lot of the discussion points have been talked about to death by now, I wanted to revisit the book to pay particular attention to the chapters about Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues. It might sound odd for an adult to be paying attention to kids TV shows, but believe me, it’s not for my own enjoyment! (Although I must admit I am partial to a bit of Adventure Time… I blame my nephew!).
Something the team and I are focusing on at the moment is how we can restructure our videos to improve engagement and help increase the amount of information our viewers are able to retain. We want to understand how we can tweak things to help people learn better when they watch our lessons.
This is something the Sesame Street team (and later the Blue’s Clues team) focused on as well. They didn’t just want to entertain children watching their shows, they also wanted to make sure they were learning from it too. Rather than just guessing or following the existing ‘sacred cows’ for kids TV shows, they took a more scientific approach and actually performed studies on the children watching each show.
The outcome of this trial and error approach was a new understanding of how children learn, how they watch TV and how educational shows should be structured. Blue’s Clues was then able to take this to the next level and optimise the approach even further.
Although this is not the focus of The Tipping Point, I feel Gladwell does an excellent job of summarising the process these production companies went through and pointing out the key aspects of what they found. For me this has been both inspirational (from an educational company point of view) and something I have been able to learn from greatly.
If you’re one of the 12 people that haven’t read or heard of this book, make sure you check it out.