Yesterday, I talked briefly (by my standards) about the statistics that use to float around indicating the scandalous amount of time our children’s spent watching TV. Like me, I suspect that a lot of us teachers decried this state of affairs ignominiously, owning up only to ourselves the number of childhood hours we spent in front of our TVs, as Doug Johnson admitted yesterday in his comments on the blog.
Frankly, I suspect that the benefits of my time in front of the tube, outweighed the harm, by a large margin. I was probably more aware of the historic, cultural, societal, physical, and ecological world around me, at an earlier age, than would have been possible for my parent’s generation. Plus, I got to grow up with Timmy and Lassie, Captain Kangaroo, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the advent of Rock & Roll.
But the second statistic that I shared, that a house hold with a 300 channel cable or satellite service has access to 7,000 hours of multimedia content a day. My first reaction is that so much of it is bad. Yet that reaction furthers the points that I will be suggesting to my audiences this week.
- Multimedia information is a pervasive part of our information environment, certainly outweighing print by a long shot in volume, compellingness, and vicinity (with more an more computer-based signage around us). It can not be ignored that an enormous part of accessing information today involves media literacy, not just the ability to decode text.
- Who’s going to fill all of those channels? There is an infinite web of knowledge, ideas, and stories out there, waiting for the telling. The mechanics of writing a coherent paragraph is a mere foundation to the skills that will be basic to our children’s future. We must help learn to tell stories, and tell them compellingly using the entire range of media.
These should be an explicit part not only of what we teach, but how we teach — and our students must be held responsible for demonstrating these skills.
What do you think?