"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Television and Other Evils

No, I don't think television is evil. I was going to save that for later in the blog, but there it is. I'm actually quite fond of television.

Every so often on my parenting message board, there is a discussion about TV. I am invariably the odd man out, the weird one who doesn't have any TV-viewing rules. The popular opinion - by far - is that TV should be restricted, doled out as a reward, or withheld as punishment. It should be shunned in favor of more "educational" activities, or it should be avoided altogether. Television is bad, television sucks up our kids and replaces them with zombies, television destroys brain cells. The word "evil" is inevitably mentioned.

Here's the thing with TV: We do watch it, and we enjoy it. TV inspires us, entertains us, and amuses us. We learn from it. It brings interesting people, places, and information right into our living room. It is the catalyst for countless discussions, and the jumping off point for lots of imaginative play. Earlier this week a half hour show sparked an entire afternoon's worth of ice shields and special powers. But... it's just TV. It's just another activity, or resource, that my kids could take or leave anytime of their own volition. They are as free to watch TV as they are to play outside, read a book, bake cookies, play video games or use the computer (two other "evils") do a science experiment, and the list goes on. I place no more or less value on TV as I do anything else. Last night after dinner, Everett and Paxton helped me bake cookies, and Spencer and Mike watched Food Detectives. Was one more valuable than the other? Ironically, I think the people who are so ardently anti-TV make it far more important than it needs to be - either so evil and corrupting that it must be avoided, or so special and rare that it can only be used as a reward or a punishment... both of which I believe set up some unhealthy associations. It's just TV! Would it be a bad idea to watch TV all day, every day, for days and days on end? Probably. I also believe it would be a bad idea to read all day, every day, for days and days on end. (This coming from a person who adores reading and is currently in the middle of no less than half a dozen books) Life should be about variety, among other things, and kids who are free to choose naturally seek out that variety.

I have trust.

Some people homechool because they want to avoid certain aspects of public school. In a sense, they want to make their childrens' worlds smaller. I homeschool in part because I want to make my childrens' worlds bigger. I want them to have access to as much as possible, and I want them to recognize that learning is, indeed, everywhere. Could we live without TV? Could we homeschool without TV? Of course! But I can't understand, when it's something we're privileged enough to have access to, why I would limit an entire resource of fun, enjoyment, and yes, learning, just because I can.


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