7000 Hours

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

3 thoughts on “7000 Hours”

  1. I quite agree with your conclusions. I’d suggest reading the executive summary of this report: Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds. It’s by the Kaiser Family Foundation and was released in March of this year. There are some surprising results. Such as the correlation between vidoe game use and reading.

    The report says that on average kids spend 6 hrs and 21 min. a day with the various media. Thats a total of 44 hrs 27 min. each week. A little different from the stat you quoted. Then again, that’s the average. Some spend substantially more time, others, substantially less. Another finding is that kids are more and more taking in various media simultaneously; multitasking is on the rise. (I don’t think that’s a surprise.)

    TV and the various forms of listening to music are the number 1 and 2 most often used media among children today. Computer use comes in at number 3. I’ve been trying to “steal” some of that computer time away from fun and games and get my students to give it over to learning. Through the use of blogs I think I’ve been having some success at that. 😉

  2. Oh Yes! Totally agree. I was in a school staff room the other day and overheard a teacher giving instructions to the substitute teacher about work for the kids. Dictation!! Just talk or read for 20 minutes about anything and get them to write it down, correct spelling, punctuation & neat handwriting. I wanted to scream but restrained myself – this took me back to when i was 9 years old and dictation was the bane of my life – i couldn’t believe that some teachers are still inflicting this kind of cruelty on our children! That doesn’t really address your point above very well but shows how some ‘schooling’ hasn’t changed at all – so as another aside thank you for the awesome interview with Dr Tim Tyson just recently.
    To the point you are making above – have you read ‘Everything Bad is Good for You’ Steven Johnson – he addresses these issues very well (though there is a heavy emphasis on computer gaming as the comparitive media). In examining popular culture: video games, TV, internet & film he argues against the sensationalism that it’s all junk, violence… maybe in many instances some content is (there is just so much of it) but the cognitive skills developed are no less but different than those acquired in traditional print based media. He refers to McLuhan saying ‘the problem with judging new cultural systems on their own terms is that the presence of the recent past inevitably colours your vision of the emerging form, highlighting the flaws and imperfection.’ So you know really you can’t compare apples with oranges!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *