Educator and A Blue Dog Wow Pre-Schoolers
a degree in education lead to a glamorous job? You bet! Alice
Wilder, Ph.D. in educational psychology from Columbia University's
Teachers College, has the challenging and fun position of director
of research and development and writer for "Blues Clues,"
the very successful Nickelodeon preschool TV series. An adult
who sometimes "feels like a kid inside," she learned
research techniques at Teachers College, took courses in how children
see and respond to television, and did her dissertation on "theme
comprehension," or how youngsters recognize the major points
of a story.
At "Blues Clues," she combines her academic background
and skills with a natural impulse to create a practical, interactive
experience for pre-schoolers. At Blue (for the uninitiated, Blue
is an adorable, floppy-eared, cartoon character, blue dog), she
is in charge of researching each of the scripts, essentially by
conducting focus groups of two- to five-year-olds. In three separate
steps, a concept in story form, based on a curriculum she co-authored,
is presented to several children. As she sits on the floor with
them and asks questions and observes responses, Dr. Wilder analyzes
the impact of the story and how it fits the show's stated mission
to "empower, challenge, and build self-esteem of preschoolers
while making them laugh." For her work, she goes to Head
Start programs, public schools, and private day care centers;
about 100 children see a segment before it is aired during a nine-month
development process. The learning is designed to be relevant to
children's lives; Blues celebrates the ordinary by making it extraordinary.
Dr. Wilder also writes ancillary books, educational workbooks
and magazine columns, and, together with the "Blues Clues"
writing team, was recently nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding
Writing in a Children's Series.
With 10 to 12 million weekly viewers nationally and internationally,
the show has an enormous impact and its developers a tremendous
responsibility. With her strong academic background in education
and psychology and equally strong creative bent, Alice Wilder
is showing that an interest in children and education can take
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.