Thursday, May 08, 2008

kill your television, Lewis and Clark

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.


Anonymous said...

We're just the same: no broadcast or cable, only DVDs for adults after hours, but TV acceptable at grandma's house.

I worry about the forbidden fruit thing too. Sometimes if there's a TV in a restaurant or something, we sit where we can't see it if possible, or we end up telling the kids to quit watching it all the time.

I think that led my son to think he would get in trouble if he ever watches TV! So I explained that we just don't like it very much, the ads are just trying to get you to buy things, and that you never know what scary or yucky stuff might pop up (as opposed to a previewed film). He got that, and now it's not a big deal. Just something we don't do.

So how are they going to make a TV show?

Anonymous said...

And what kind of a TV show? An interview? A newscast? A documentary?

Granna Judy said...

You might be interested to know, Elsie, that when they are at Granna's house, Big has very little interest in tv. Little still does, as Big did at Little's age, but Big has moved on. He mostly watches to keep Little company when Grandad and I are unable to do so.

So I"m curious -- was it mainly Big's idea or Little's, this Lewis and Clark show?

shaun said...

I can tell you that Violet's first choice for that would likely have been "make a video," which would have meant something like "put on a play and film it, possibly with cool effects." She loves to act things out, and she loves the idea of some permanent record of the performance.

So in our house, I wouldn't read her response as especially telling about her attitude toward TV. That's just me. (Her 2nd choice would have been making a comic -- and she is the only comic reader in the house. She turns most everything into a comic.)

For the record, our girls can watch PBS Kids, Jane and the Dragon on Saturday mornings, and DVDs. They don't, much -- which may be why they get pumped up about Jane and the Dragon as their big Saturday show. They have screen time limits for computer + TV combined, but it's an unusual day when that comes into play, especially now that it's nice outside.

Ipo said...

look forward to hearing about their first film directorial/producing debut - maybe film and post? who knows, they might be the next lucas/speilberg due and bring their rich imagination to the world.

as i have mentioned, i did attend a waldorf school, my house was not a tv free home, i watched tv, and my class was half half i would say on tv vs no tv... and each kid reacted differently to it... based on that i really approach tv with my dd the same way i deal with most parenting decisions - how does she deal with it? negative? positive? and i really support the theory of moderation in all things and self-regulation if possible.

my biggest objection to tv, for her and us, is the adds. we have tivo so i rarely watch adds and she usually watches pbs or videos. she also does like some family reality shows; Little People, Big World and Jon and Kate Plus Eight - which we tivo, ff through adds and the adds aren't geared towards consumerism. and she does like Survivor - go figure. she usually only watches about 20 min before she turns the tube off and goes on to play, so at this point no concrete limits. now my brother, who i raised, was a whole different being, needed limits all over the place and had very little self-regulation...

and i'll admit freely, i enjoy tv, all types - it's a fast paced book for me and i kick butt at pop-culture trivia :-)

Angela said...

That would leave me a bit perplexed as well, given your lifestyle. Oddly, my family is cable wired (okay...all but ME, but my vote was overruled!), yet they NEVER want to create a tv show, even when it is the most ideal format! And they are both in theater, so it makes little sense.

It will be interesting to hear how the final product turns out. Nothing to stress you said, once and done.

elsie deluxe said...

I think this is probably along the lines of what Shaun said: they want to put on a play and have a permanent record of it. I imagine they're thinking of telling a story with their performance, rather than creating a documentary or something else... they are just not all that sophisticated in their tv viewing.

Anyway, what we'll do is work together to create some kind of play, and then I'll tape it. First we have to find the video camera... Joe thinks it might be up in the attic.