Taking Notes: Eye on Education – A Lecture from Big Bird!

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – A Lecture from Big Bird!

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


At Villanova University in Philadelphia, students are in an uproar after hearing that their graduating class will receive an address by none other than… Big Bird!!!

Caroll Spinney, the man inside the costume for the last 30 years on Sesame Street, will be receiving an honorary degree from Villanova, and speaking at the commencement on May 16. Spinney has written a book entitled “The Wisdom of Big Bird” and is considered to be a “world class educator” by the Villanova University president.

Students have “erupted in disbelief, shock and anger” at this, arguing that after spending somewhere in the vicinity of $112,000 U.S. for tuition, housing and books – it is patronizing and demeaning to have an icon for preschoolers address their graduating class.

Others acknowledge the important role Sesame Street has had on the popular culture and educational development of the nation, and argue that Caroll Spinney is a respected educator and a well-deserved recipient of the honorary award, whose speech will be inspirational to graduates.

It seems these graduates may have earned a very expensive $112,000 degree, yet have missed the most important lesson of all. Our ability to learn is at its peak when we are in our preschool years. Anyone who has managed to tap into that, who has learned how to teach children effectively and motivate learning, is someone who merits our admiration. None of us would be in university now if our desire to learn had not been nurtured by individuals like these, individuals who found creative ways to tap into our natural abilities during these important, formative, preschool years, and who inspired us to place a high value on learning and education from a very young age.