T.V. is such an eager punching bag. One look at a set-top box offers up a flurry of reasons to knock it around. Denouncing t.v. is a popular pastime for many and teachers tend to mix it up more than most. Among educator circles, t.v. has come to symbolize the coast-to-coast 24-hr. live transmission of ignorance and has absorbed blame for worse than that.
This whole t.v. thing felt like a one-off, one last digression before the start of summer, but it’s offered up a nifty personality test for teachers. From my vantage point, this thing really defines you.
The topic has metastasized to three other blogs (please check out Dean’s, which is absolutely on point with this one) and my input on the matter has devolved frustratingly into a series of “that isn’t what I said,” comments.
So just to tie a bow on this thing:
- I’m not suggesting you watch more t.v.
- I’m not suggesting you watch t.v. in your classroom.
- I’m not suggesting you have to consume days of television on the year in order to have an opinion on t.v.
- It really really really doesn’t matter to me how much t.v. you or your kids watch.
- (And please notice here that I haven’t made a point of my own viewing habits in any of this. They’re totally irrelevant. If I never watched the stuff I’d stand as firmly on this point.)
- This post actually has very little to do with t.v.
My points are these:
- You can fill an empty blog or an empty book or an empty television set or an empty 16-track mixer with either garbage or gold.
- As teachers, whether we read blogs or read books or watch t.v. or listen to music or not, we can help students sort through a given medium’s good & bad. (Reading and watching and listening tends to help, though.)
- But we cannot do that — truly we cannot engage our students in a discussion of why a particular show is worth our time or whether we are spending too much time engaged by a particular medium — if, in the backs of our heads, we’re muttering to ourselves, “T.V. is just wrecking these kids,” if we don’t share their curiosity or their tuning to the potential of things. Really we can’t. That kind of disgenuousness is blatant and hypocrisy reeks.
- As educators, our professional code is of questionable value if we’d rather abolish a medium entirely than model moderation.
- (I mean, seriously, what kind of message does that send? That our only options are “all” or “nothing?”)
This thing traces back so quickly to free speech, a medium over which wars have been fought and blood spilled, distinctions which, to the best of my knowledge, t.v. can’t yet claim. This slope some of these educators are standing on is so slippery. This outdated attitude would be merely roguish, charmingly provocative, if I were talking to a college friend over beers on my back porch. But these are educators, which makes this a little more unnerving.