Article: Television, videos, and education: Smart man!

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Image Television, videos, and education
By Lance Gardner on May 10, 2011

This is an article recently written by my son's first grade teacher at a private Waldorf school. I have published it here with his permission; it was originally written for the school newsletter. I hope you enjoy it.

» Read the article

ImageKyWoods
May 11, 2011 3:06 PM CST
Name: Renée
Northern KY
Mr. Phil is obviously a very smart man, and a great teacher! Thanks for sharing this with us, Lance.
ImageLance
May 11, 2011 4:44 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
I am glad you enjoyed it. There is another article to come in a week or so. I personally have not watched television for over 15 years, and rarely even watch movies.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Imagemagnolialover
May 11, 2011 8:08 PM CST
Name: Tc / Tracey
Wisconsin
Big fan of the Waldorf method of teaching. Looking forward to the article to come. Thanks for sharing it.
ImageLance
May 12, 2011 6:11 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
I am glad you enjoyed it. Maybe I can convince Mr. Phil to write even more if we get enough interest.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Frillylily
May 12, 2011 10:21 PM CST
Missouri
Most of the figures in history didn't watch TV because of course they didn't have it. Plenty of smart minded folks have made great discoveries the past 20-30 years, and had TV. If kids can learn cussing, fighting, and commercial jingles on TV, there is no reason they can't learn something useful. TV is not the problem, what is ON it, is. I homeschool my kids, and they do an awful lot of watching videos. Bill Nye the science guy has some great videos and so does Eye Witness video and BBC and so forth. If people would stop letting their kids spend hours watching Disney kiddie soap ops and put something of worth on there, they wouldn't be such empty headed brats!
ImageKyWoods
May 13, 2011 7:42 PM CST
Name: Renée
Northern KY
I agree, too many people use tv as a babysitter, and don't pay attention to the junk they are absorbing from it. I love the nature and science shows.
ImageLance
May 14, 2011 8:21 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you all for reading the article and sharing your thoughts.
One of the main points that Mr. Phil is trying to make is this quote: "watch quite a bit of TV so they could learn science (and stay out of her hair)". It is the last part he wants parents to be honest about - often parents allow or even encourage their children to watch TV or play video games to get them out of their way, not to be educational. The other point, of course, is that plenty of people throughout history made incredible discoveries and contributions without one bit of television, and possibly the lack of TV (or at least extensive watching of it) allowed them to explore the real world even more thoroughly and develop their own unique artistic or scientific styles and minds.
I agree that there are many possibly educational and fun things that can be had from videos that would not be possible otherwise. I will probably never see the migration of the wildebeests in person, or explore the jungles of the central Amazon, but thanks to others that have and recorded it I can still learn some about events or areas I otherwise would never experience. However, it is done at the pace of the people making the video, showing what they consider worth showing. If this is read in a book, the reader can go at their own pace and spend more time on the parts of their choosing. The content is still to some extent up to the author, but many times I have noticed things in a photo that were not part of the main subject or emphasis, whereas videos go buy much too fast for that, flitting from image to image before any real in-depth examination can be had. Scientific journal articles are an excellent example of scientific endeavours that I hope are never relegated to videos, as the thoroughness needed to really delve into a subject can never be achieved in a 30 minute show interrupted with commercials. True concentration on a topic I don't think can ever be learned from television, and the producers know that catering to the attention span of a 10 year old sells, instead of encouraging longer attention spans. There is also absolutely no substitute for experiencing learning in real life, out in the middle of it all. There is also the need to have physical involvement in the world and be active. My son is learning a great deal more by being outside and checking out whatever he chooses instead of what is shown on a video.
Watch the old nature videos sometime, and notice the difference between them and what is on now; it was startling to me how the older shows actually held images for extended periods without jumping from view to view, allowing me to actually see the background and notice many other aspects of the show. At this point in my own personal experience, I prefer to read instead of watch the video unless the video shows images not otherwise available. Even then, I will often read about something else anyway.
Please continue your thoughts, but remember to keep it civil and respectful.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageNEILMUIR1
May 15, 2011 1:23 AM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Lance, I have taught my niece the ancient art of Hedge laying which she loves doing. Unfortunately there are no books or TV that can really show how this is done. You simply have to learn it as people pass the skill down to you. My niece is very intelligent and has got a place at Oxford University in September, so we are very proud of her.
However she asked me some questions about when I was at University and she really could not believe my answers.
For she wanted to know what computer I used in the Hall of Residence and did they have WI. FI. When I informed her we did not have computers, she was aghast and wanted to know how we learnt anything? I also informed her that we did not have mobile phones or satellite TV and her reply was "it must have been terrible for you!"
My nephew who is eight years old, does not know a world without computers, mobiles, game stations, and satellite TV, even his book is a kindle! To him everyone has one and they are something free, he has not learnt they are not, yet!
I agree with a lot of the things above, and the Article. It is getting the balance correct as to what the children watch and when. To stick children in front of a TV and allow them to watch whatever comes up, or they flick to is not the correct way. There are lots to learn from the TV if used correctly.
On our B.B.C. there are no adverts or commercials allowed at any time. So the Documentaries are indeed a pleasure to watch, as things are slowed down and explained.
However when the B.B.C. sell these Documentaries to other countries who allow commercials, the Documentaries are cut down by the country that bought them to allow for commercials.
A brilliant nature program we see here that is an hour long and full of facts and interest, may only be half an hour long in another country after it has been clipped for commercials.
At prime time viewing they put even more commercials on. So in the end you get a series of what looks like still photos flashing on the TV and no explanation as to what they are.
It simply comes down to money for the TV stations, which is sad.
If my three nieces and my nephew stay at my mothers or at my house, they know we have the simple solution that we will do if they play up with the TV, it is simply called the OFF button.
Regards from a sunny England.
Neil.
Thumb of 2011-05-15/NEILMUIR1/07d0b8
ImageKyWoods
May 15, 2011 2:08 PM CST
Name: Renée
Northern KY
LOL @ "It must have been terrible for you!"

Our parents grew up with no television, just radio. I remember our first black and white tv--that thing lasted forever! It had a black metal case, brand name 'RCA Victor'. Remember the dog looking into the gramophone?

Great photo, Neil!
ImageLance
May 16, 2011 8:10 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you for sharing your experiences, Neil. The art of hedge laying is certainly an intensive exercise, and I am glad your niece had the ability to learn it. I have never done this myself, but have seen it done on a video, of course! This is probably an example of something I will never experience but have gained an appreciation for because it has been recorded. I have watched several BBC programs from a disc, so I am pretty sure I get the full showing of them. Much better than the dumbing down on seen on popular TV.
I grew up on the cusp of computers, remembering my Dad bringing home the stacks of computer punch cards to use as note paper. Electronics can certainly have their benefit, but only if used properly as noted above. The same is true for many other wonders of technology, no matter how old (imagine learning to use a very old technological marvel, such as a hammer, improperly Grumbling ). I must admit I have no desire for a Kindle, though, preferring the feel, readability and ability to flip pages from a book.
I may have the better solution to the OFF button, which is not even using the ON button! Actually, by the time the day is over for me and my son, we typically no longer have time for anything except dinner, get ready for bed and read a book. He laments not being able to play a game or watch something, but I just remind him of what we accomplished and he is good to go. He is really enjoying gardening this year, and looking forward to watching it all grow. We are trying bushel gourds for our new fun plant this year, which we are both excited to see how they turn out. Perhaps my best solution to the video desire is that we do video games or shows together. That way he knows I am not giving him a different standard, I am not using it as a babysitter, and we still spend the time together interacting.
Wonderful photo, thanks for sharing. Sun in England? Good to know it happens!
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageNEILMUIR1
May 16, 2011 12:28 PM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Lance, we have had the hottest and driest April since records began with only 10% rainfall. The temperatures are amazing for us at this time of year, with lots of sun and most days in the 70F and the odd one into the 80s. But I did not need a TV to tell me that, the plants and animals told me that. One just has to look and see the drought, with what we called in the Army the most useful two things ever invented, the Mark 1 eyeballs.
Technology is essential for children nowadays and that is a fact of life. However it misuse is also extremely detrimental not only to children but society in general.
My nephew who is eight years old as I stated came to stay with us recently, he likes to garden with me and to help out with the cooking, where he can and indeed safety allows.
He is normally a well behaved and good mannered child for his age. Then whilst using his laptop computer all I could suddenly hear was things like "I am going to blow you up," then things like "stab him." I was I admit shocked at some of his language and went to see what he was doing. He was in fact playing a very graphic war game on his laptop, to his lament I took it off him.
When my brother came to pick him up I had a word with him about this behaviour and this game on the computer. He of course was concerned and we looked at my nephews laptop together. There was this game and it clearly stated SUITABLE FOR 18+ ONLY. When my nephew was asked where he got this game from he calmly stated "my friend at school put it on for me, we watch the main battles on TV." My brother assured me that he cannot watch this at home and asked my nephew where did he watch it, "at school if it rains" he replied.
My brother was furious as this game also contains some semi pornographic images. So he duly went to the school armed with the laptop and 'spoke to them' about how this could happen.
It turned out that due to Health & Safety the children are not allowed in the playground if it rains, as the school could be sued by the parents of the children if an accident happened.
So if it is wet they get the children and sit them in there classrooms and they can watch TV! It has not taken long for one of them to work out how to get around the school controls and have access to the whole range of satellite TV. So it easy to copy the web site details for this game and download it. So that is how someone did it for him.
Lance it is a catch 22 situation I am afraid. Do you check their laptops every night for anything at all? If you stop them using them they drop behind their peers at school.
It is the same with TV as well. They are told at school to watch these programs depending on what they are studying and a list is given out to parents. Some parents cannot afford things, as satellite TV is expensive here. So they have sleepovers arranged between parents where the children can watch the programs together in theory. To make this work correctly you have to be with them, as children together will inevitably switch channels when they get bored and wish to show off to their friends. The parents blame the schools and the schools blame the parents, it is a never ending battle.
I went to a Public (private school), after winning a scholarship to it. It was very strict and there motto was 'Spare the rod, Ruin the child' as corporal punishment was an excepted thing and six of the best with a cane was the done thing. Did it make me any better knowing if I pushed my luck I would get caned? No Lance it did not, in fact it made us more devious and work on the 11th commandment 'Thou shall not get caught.'
Now they can do it on a computer, where we did another way without harming anyone!
The harm to a child watching and playing with this new technology has not been researched properly. Maybe I am old fashioned and some say not liberal enough, they are entitled to their views.
When I take my nephew over our local shop, I really do not want him looking at pornographic magazines on the shelves where he can see them, nor do I want them on TV. I do not want to turn the radio on and hear another teenager stabbed or shot. Then a certain TV program or computer/mobile phone game blamed on it! What I like to hear is the British Trust For Conservation Volunteers has given a prize to a school for planting 25,000 trees, now that cheers me up.

I took these this afternoon of one of my Australian tree ferns Dicksonia antarctica, It is not often people get to see a crozier (new frond), emerging.
I hope you enjoy them.
Regards from a hot England.
Neil.
Thumb of 2011-05-16/NEILMUIR1/50fe06
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[Last edited May 16, 2011 12:38 PM CST]
Quote | Post #658451 (11)
ImageLance
May 16, 2011 3:04 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
I remember from your interview your fondness of the tree ferns; thanks for sharing the photos.
Based on what you mention above, I am thankful yet again for my son's school, as they have no computers or similar and no video assignments. He learns from me as we work together occasionally on my computer. Being familiar with electronics is indeed essential, and I have no doubt that my son will learn it as well as anyone else, even though it is not used in school. Being taught to think enables learning almost any skill, as I have taught myself much about computers and the various programs I use on it. He often asks to color graphs with me.
The Health & Safety sounds a bit overdone, as there are many experiences to be had on a rainy day. I have no desire to be locked up in a padded cell with a straight jacket to ensure I do not injure myself!
Thanks for sharing your experiences, and I hope others reading this article will remember to at least occasionally check what their children will be doing.
I will hope for rainy skies and grey overcast days for you!
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageKyWoods
May 16, 2011 3:06 PM CST
Name: Renée
Northern KY
You should enter at least one of those in the next photo contest, Neil!
ImageNEILMUIR1
May 16, 2011 3:12 PM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear KyWoods, I did win the photo contest with a Clematis and have been runner up on a few occasions. But when Sharon did the SPOTLIGHT on me at very little notice, Lance did put a comment on a post he sent about my photography. So therefore I do not think I am that good!
Regards.
Neil.
ImageLance
May 16, 2011 4:19 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
You made me curious, so I checked the comments. It seems I said you were quite good, actually! I believe you were in the midst of learning a new camera, and I wished you well with it Angel .
Now that we have that cleared up, you may feel a bit more confident in entering your photos, I hope.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageNEILMUIR1
May 18, 2011 6:23 AM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Lance, i watched an amazing Documentary on TV last night about the Dambusters old vs new. On the 17th of May 1943 a crack squadron of Lancaster bombers took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire armed with a secret and untested weapon. There aim was to destroy the three major dams in the German Ruhr and cripple the armament factories that relied upon the water to make weapons. After only 7 weeks training these brave men had to fly 500 miles into Germany at tree height, going underneath electricity pylons and cables at night. Then to attack the dams they had to go through the German guns get the bombers to 60 feet off the water exactly using two spotlights to match together to give them the correct height and drop the bouncing bomb at 450 yards from the dam.
Two of the dams were destroyed and the devastation was immense.
The hardest task was to navigate at that distance at night traveling at 250 mph, 100 feet from the ground. This involved a team effort from the crew.
So to celebrate the amazing achievement of the airmen in 1943, they got seven RAF personnel who had just finished their pilot raining to a point and they had to replicate this famous raid.
These men and women are used to head up displays and jets, GPS and every electronic gadget, on this they got exactly the same as the 1943 aircrew.
Firstly they had to learn how to fly a Lancaster bomber, not an easy task if you are used to have everything done for you. They were given the same manuals as the original crews, no TV or video.
They eat the same as the first crews and were treated to the same discipline. Then they had to learn how to navigate at night 100 feet of the ground, which they found almost impossible as they had to use maps and work everything out using maths and things like trigonometry! Even the flight engineer was perplexed having to read manuals.
As there are only two flying Lancaster's left in the world they could not risk the new crew fly one, and the Germans might get a tad upset at one of them flying into their airspace at 100 feet above the ground. So a simulator was built on a non flying Lancaster, it was totally realistic.
After the seven weeks training they were given a test flight to the targets which the first crews were not. This time the cold in the aircraft the noise, and the gunfire\searchlights from the Germans were included. They failed miserably and crashed it. They all claimed that it was impossible to do without TV guidance and GPS etc. Yet it was done in 1943.
They were given further chances and still failed, so some of the original Dambusters were brought in to help, including an American who was on this famous raid.
At last after a lot more training than the seven weeks, they did get to the dam and after five attempts did release the bomb. It did hit the dam but in the wrong place and it did not breach it.
I think Lance this goes to show that the way the 'originals' were taught by reading books and manuals, did work on this occasion. No electronic gadgets at all, just a map, a ruler. pencil and a watch.
Flying over 1000 miles in the freezing cold and relying just upon maths and teamwork, against a barrage of German guns and fighter planes.
They had dinner with the survivors of this raid, and took their hats off to them! How did you do this they all wanted to know. We had to was the answer they got.
Two of the survivors from 1943 were taken by two of the new airmen up in a jet, there comment was "this is not flying, a computer does this"
Lance before I leave you, to see these new pilots having to read books was truly funny as they are not used to that.
Regards.
Neil.




ImageLance
May 18, 2011 9:14 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you for your story and other contributions, it was quite amusing and informative.
Here is a shot from a recent camping trip and hike I did with my son and a classmate. Perhaps not as good as your photography, but I hope it will suffice. It was a cloudy day, and we were actually hiking through the rain clouds, which was quite fun. This a red newt, the juvenile stage for this critter. The adult returns to the water with gills on the side of its head.
Thumb of 2011-05-18/Lance/aecb67

Thumb of 2011-05-18/Lance/a07b97
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
CarolineScott
May 26, 2011 8:31 PM CST
Many years ago when my children were young, my late DH placed a TV set in our travel trailer.
Supposedly it was for "Rainy Days".
The gum boots and rain coats won every time.
The TV never was used.
The children always found nature more interesting.
ImageLance
May 27, 2011 6:16 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thanks for reading. I will take boots and puddles most any day over TV.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes

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