Monday, April 25, 2011

What TV Teaches Us

Right now, the boys are enjoying a hodgepodge of favorite television shows. I think that number one on the list is "Batman: the Brave and the Bold." Number two is "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," and number three is "Super Why." Sesame Street and Barney are still on the list, but those are mostly shows watched while snuggling with Grandma. There's the occasional odd episode of different things, but that's the big three television shows, as far as my children go.



(Movies? Different story. Little Bear is still not into movies, and The Boy is very specific and picky when it comes to his movies.)

The lessons that are taught in each show are superficially different but fundamentally the same: teamwork, helping your friends, and doing what is right are the most important things. I can get behind these lessons, as they teach important things about socialization and, well, life. I think and hope that we all keep our family and friends high in our thoughts and actions, and most of us put the team ahead of our own personal interests most of the time.

In education nowadays, teachers use projects and group- and teamwork to teach important concepts. Think about science experiments; they're doing that same sort of thing for math and language arts and social studies.

Mickey and his friends use their Mouseketools and their friendship to solve their problems, such as remembering the steps to Daisy's special dance and getting her on stage in time for the show. Each character's personality and individual traits factors into the story, and the writers take great pains to keep everyone involved in the solutions, despite whatever flaws they bring to the table.

Batman is a super hero: brave, loyal, hard-working, fights to the end, ready to sacrifice anything for his friends. Yes, most of his solutions tend to result in a big splash-page punch to the jaw; but I'm okay with that. He fights for his friends and with his friends, and that is something that meets full approval.

In Super Why, the characters go into famous stories, meet the story's cast, and help them solve their problems by using letters, spelling words, and reading sentences. It's not exactly the most satisfying solution to problems, but it's interesting enough to keep our interest and teach words, letters, phonics, and spelling.

I certainly understand that too much television isn't good for them, as too much television isn't good for anyone. I try to limit the amount of television that they watch, and many days, they will really only watch tv as a special treat with Grandma. I don't want the television to limit their play time, that's for sure. But, look at a day like today: the boys spent about three hours outside in the hot (80 plus degrees) sun running around the Pittsburgh Zoo with a friend. And, when I say running, I mean really running at top speed for long lengths of time. On a day when they've had that much exercise and fun, it's not unreasonable to let them watch an extra program in the evening.

Besides, too much television isn't the cause of my personal issues, so I don't expect the same from the boys. And, it does give them a basis for pretend play. The Boy got a Two-Face action figure from me last night, and he's been playing good guy-bad guy... "I'm going to get away from you, Batman! "No, Two-Face, I'm going to get you!" followed by Batman knocking him off the edge of the bed / table / chair / etc. Rinse and repeat.

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