As a result of my thinking about the need for some kind of final synthesis, I asked the kids to think about what they wanted to do as a cumulative project to convey what they've learned about the Lewis and Clark expedition. I told them they could write a book, make a poster, put on a play, make a television show, write some music, create a dance, or anything else they could come up with. Wide open: whatever you want to do, whatever you feel moved by the material to create.
They want to make a television show.
Does this stop you in your tracks? No? Seems like the logical choice for a couple of kids in a television-obsessed culture, does it not? Yes indeed.
Except guess what? We. Don't. Have. Television.
I haven't talked about this much, because it's not something I think about much anymore. We don't have tv in our house because advertising is bad for kids (and everyone else) and that's what I've told them. They are not television virgins: their grandparents have cable, and they watch at their house. When we travel, I let them watch tv in hotel rooms. It's not a big deal to me, particularly, but I don't want it in my house.
We do have a DVD player, and we do watch movies. But there's no broadcast television in our house, and there never has been. (full disclosure: Joe and I follow a few shows on DVD and download: Lost, The Wire, and House. That's it. No advertising, and we watch after the kids are in bed.) And days and even weeks often go by in which the thing does nothing but gather dust. Of course, it gathers dust whether it's in use or not, but you know what I mean. Sometimes it just sits there, unused, for long periods of time.
So I have to ask myself: do the kids want to make a tv show because it's really the best medium for the topic (I'm open on this; it may well be.) Or is it because television has become a kind of ultra-exciting forbidden fruit?
I can tell you this: the next time this question comes around, and I start asking them what kind of final project they want to do for a unit of study, if they want to do another television show? My answer is ready.
We did that last time, kids. Let's do something new this time.