When Bill Cosby arrived at UMass in the early 1970s, he was a blossoming comedic and television star, with his established show “I Spy” and “The Electric Company” about to sweep the country. He received his master’s in education in 1972 and his doctorate in 1976. His 142-page thesis was titled “An Integration of the Visual Media via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning.” Today, he lives in Western Massachusetts. And if you think he’s done talking and teaching 40 years later, you don’t know The Cos.
“After I finished a performance at The Cage, the dean approached me and said the dean of the School of Education would like to talk to you.”
“I just felt very, very comfortable at UMass. It felt old and comfortable, but not beaten, but not wealthy, old money.”
“We sat.And I listened to the dean of education, Dwight Allen. He’s so bright, sometimes people don’t understand what he’s saying. He was telling me that he felt my work with ‘I Spy’ and whatever else I was doing, that the monologues, that they were in fact about education, so much so, that he liked the idea that I was doing these things on television, with the thought of TV not being a teacher, but an aid to help people think better about behavior. He asked, ‘Would you like to put this down on paper?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
“I left Los Angeles and moved here, and we live here now. Working with [Associate Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs) Norma Jean Anderson, and many of the educators, I started working also with ‘The Electric Company,’ ‘Sesame Street’ people, and I applied that, along with Fat Albert, to writing and putting humor to basic behavior of these animated characters.”
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