Harvard professor who helped develop Sesame Workshop model dies at 84

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Former Harvard professor and chairman of the Children’s Television Workshop’s board of advisors, Gerald Lesser, died Sept. 23, according to the Harvard Crimson. He was 84. His tenure with the Workshop, forerunner of Sesame Workshop, lasted from 1969 to 1996.  “He was instrumental in building the Sesame Workshop model, which was the bringing together of educators and researchers to work directly on a production process,” said Charlotte Cole, vice president of international education, research, and outreach at Sesame Workshop. “They were actually members of the production team.” Lesser had a great sense of humor, recalled Joseph Blatt, his former student and now director of Harvard education school’s technology, innovation, and education masters program. “When I first saw a Harvard professor laugh out loud at Cookie Monster, I was hooked,” Blatt wrote in a tribute, “and as Gerry’s friends and students will understand, I learned that you could do important work while wearing sneakers everywhere.” Lesser’s book, “Children and Television: Lessons from Sesame Street” was published in 1974.