Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Magic Talking Box BAAAAD!

Here's a story from today's Birmingham News about the thing my kids are doing the next couple of months where the television is turned off one night a week--Paine students challenged to turn off TV once a week

News staff writer

Paine Intermediate School students last week embarked on a two-month long challenge to turn off the television at least one night a week and instead pick up a book.

The "Unplugged" program's main goal is getting students to read more, but also to explore other activities while the television is off, including exercising, starting a new hobby or spending more time with family.

"Watching television is the exact opposite of reading," said Paine Intermediate Principal Beth Bruno. "It's mindless, you can't ask questions and watching television is very antisocial."

"When students turn off the television one day a week they do their homework better, read more and do more family activities." [...]

Now first, let me just say I love this lady to pieces--she's good and fair and the kids respect her. But the criticism of the teevee is a bit overstated.

Obviously, too much of anything is bad (except Possumblog--Ed.), and television during homework time is an absolute no-dice sort of proposition at our house. But one day a week is not going to make up for six days of bad habits for those kids who watch too much.

Now when it comes to interaction, I might be wrong, but as far as I know, they don't like it when you interrupt when the fat lady's yelling at the opera to ask questions. And the last time I read a book, no matter how loudly I asked, it never answered my questions. Dumb ol' book. Simply because an activity requires a person to listen or watch and not read does not mean that it's bad, nor does the ability to ask a question mean the activity is useful--ever seen a political candidate's press conference?

Antisocial? Well, I suppose, if you allow it to be, but I know that our oldest uses books just the same way as some kids use television--as a way to tune her parents out, ignore her siblings, and neglect her other family and school responsibilities. As a result, she is, as we say down here, "eat up with book sense"--a commanding ability with raw facts; but she is also lacking in common sense--the ability to apply what she knows in a critically analytical way.

Television, like most anything else, can be good or bad, depending on how it is used. It can be a way for families to learn and explore and interact, or not. So much of what's on is pure dreck, but you know, there's usually a little button that turns the power off or changes the channel.

As for the school program, I predict great success based upon the following:

[...] If Paine students succeed at the challenge and the student body racks up 10,001 nights of television-free activities by March 19, teacher Don Garrett has promised to shave his head during a school assembly.

'Cause you know, the perceived humiliation of an adult authority figure at the hands of his charges is one of the best ways to promote literacy, socialization and family interaction.

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