“Sesame Street” first aired in 1969. I was born in 1971. We’re practically twins.
As I grew up watching the show, I was particularly drawn to the characters Bert and Ernie. In many ways, they were as different as they could be. Ernie’s short, broad head and horizontal stripes conveyed happiness from first sight. Bert’s long, narrow head, vertical stripes and bushy eyebrows practically triple-dog-dared you to like anything about him.
But no matter what life threw at them, they handled it and came out better on the other side.
Here are five important lessons about learning that I got from Bert and Ernie.
5) Bert and Ernie respect each other’s differences. Bert and Ernie are different in a lot of ways, but they know they can still be friends .
And did you ever notice anything different about Ernie’s and Bert’s hands? “Ernie is a Live-Hand Muppet (unlike Bert, who is a Hand-Rod Muppet), meaning that while operating the head of the puppet with his right hand, the puppeteer inserts his left hand into a T-shaped sleeve, capped off with a glove that matches the fabric “skin” of the puppet, thus “becoming” the left arm of the puppet. A second puppeteer usually provides the right arm, although sometimes the right arm is simply stuffed and pinned to the puppet’s chest.” – Muppet Wiki
4) Bert and Ernie learn together, through their differences. When Bert and Ernie see or do the same thing in different ways, they talk about it. And when they combine their unique perspectives and talents, great new things emerge (like combining boring ol’ bread with sticky ol’ peanut butter)!
3) Bert and Ernie get on each other’s nerves. And that’s perfectly okay. A few tight-lipped grumbles aren’t enough to cause them to abandon each other. They address the situation themselves, without someone swooping in to save the day for them.
2) Bert and Ernie could “go solo” when they wanted or needed to. Two of their most iconic songs are Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” and Bert’s “Doin’ the Pigeon”. They were able to do something great on their own when called upon, and it was about something they really loved.
Rubber Duckie –
1) Bert and Ernie allowed others to learn and play with them, too. I was so jealous of Shola Lynch getting to spend time with Bert and Ernie. Even with the seemingly perfect dynamic that Bert and Ernie have going, they aren’t isolated from the rest of the Sesame Street community! Sometimes you see Bert without Ernie, or Ernie without Bert, or you see someone else along with Bert and Ernie! The interactions change because of the “personality” of the characters, but they are always Bert and Ernie.
Twiddlebugs and Bottle Caps. Rubber Ducky and Oatmeal. Drums and Pigeons. Practical Jokes and Paper Clips. Hard to imagine one without the other.
Bonus – Ernie and Aaron Neville sing “Don’t Want To Live On The Moon” http://www.sesamestreet.org/videos#media/video_3b21a9bb-1558-11dd-a62f-919b98326687