I have spent considerable time this week considering Neil Postman’s quote about Sesame Street. Like many other people there are a variety of ideas, opinions etc. that I considered when I thought about Postman’s quote. I vaguely remember Sesame Street growing up; my mother operated a daycare and we spent most of our time playing outdoors. When we were inside we always played imaginary games, pretending to be at school, reading books, eating, etc. I don’t recall watching a lot of television throughout the day. It is evident now that our worlds have begun to shift from outdoor play, to play that involves a variety of technologies.
There are a number of different perspectives about television and how much television kids should be watching (educational or not). What is considered an educational show today? A show that teaches children a lesson? Their ABC’s? How to empathize for others? What is the true definition of an educational television show? Would a parent with a higher education or one that spends one-on-one time with their child teaching and learning, have a different opinion about educational television shows than a parent who doesn’t spend as much time with their child or may not be as educated as others? Ashley discusses a good point in her blog this week about running a household with kids on your own and how it isn’t as easy as it is made out to be. No one really prepares you for life with a child. I think it one of the hardest jobs of all time! Like Ashley mentioned, children don’t always cooperate; they may not nap when you need to get something done, they may want that one on one attention. However, supper needs to be prepared and with only person it makes everything more difficult. That’s when television comes into play, like anything, everything is in moderation. To allow your child to watch an educational show so that you can blow dry your hair, get dinner started, have a moment to yourself is completely okay! As a parent, for the last year and a half I have watched various kids’ shows from Sesame Street, Arthur, Daniel Tiger etc. In my opinion, they all have a lesson within them that children can learn from. If anything, the singing and dancing that occurs in the shows gets my child moving and interacting with the characters on the show. Children today can be learn without even knowing they are learning, that is the beauty of television!
In regards to the push towards technology in our classrooms, I think it is a great thing comes with both positive and negative points. Someone last week mentioned our students need to be entertained, that we advertise in order to get our students to come to school. If we advertise that school is a fun place where we can use technology while learning, they will be more enticed and will likely want to be at school and will be engaged while they are there. One of the positives about incorporating a variety of technologies into our classrooms, is it steps away from the traditional way of teaching and learning. It allows more opportunity for teachers to explore their teaching styles, what works and what doesn’t. It also allows teachers to find ways to meet the needs of their students using a variety of methods, resources, technologies etc. I have been teaching for the last 6 years and I have learned to pick your battles. When it comes to the use of technology this is not a battle I am willing to fight. If we can make use of technology the students are bringing to school to keep them engaged and interested in learning, then all the power to us. One of the negatives aspects of students brining their own technologies to school is are we dividing our classrooms into the privileged children who have access to technology vs. the underprivileged who don’t have the same access? How are we making both parties feel? How do we incorporate technology into our classrooms without creating this divide?
Last spring in one of my classroom discussion the topic of educational television came up. My professor at the time spoke about it and this really got me thinking about who the producers of the shows are trying to target. One of the goals of educational television was to prepare young children for school. However, when you observe the children who have access to television they are generally children who are engaged in activities outside of their home, have parent involvement, read stories with their families etc. If the target is to reach those who aren’t getting these types of things at home, then how do we ensure that these underprivileged children are accessing these educational television shows? We want our kids to be school ready and these shows are one way of doing of preparing them. How are we providing different resources, supports etc. for those who don’t have access to shows, don’t do activities outside of the home and do not have the same family engagement? If the privileged children are getting all of these things at home, then getting these educational television shows on top of that is creating a larger gap between them and their fellow students that don’t have the same privilege?
Overall like anything, as I mentioned earlier moderation is key. Teaching our children and students how to be good citizens and digital citizens in our society will be key to them being successful in their learning journey. We need to work together, using a variety of means and resources to teach our children to the best of our ability, it is my hope they will all be successful citizens in our society.