Television, video games, and education: Part 2

By Lance Gardner (Lance) on May 28, 2011

Can life ever be boring with an inventive mind and active body? Read on to find out, as Mr. Phil gives us another look at what we can accomplish without electronic distractions.

In the last article by the always serious (?) Mr. Phil, he summarized several interviews he did with famous past thinkers.  I am sure the traveling involved in obtaining these interviews was well worth it, although many would be interested in how the time aspect of his travels worked out.  In a follow-up article, Mr. Phil describes what may actually happen when the TV is turned off and children are allowed to do something other than sit in front of a screen with eyes glazed over and mouth slightly agape.  I hope you enjoy this article, as well. 


Let Them Be Bored!

by Mr. Phil


For real: let them be bored!

Actually, try being bored yourself sometime!

When is the last time you just sat? No, not watching the local news at the garage. No, not checking in on sports at the restaurant. No, not even just "seeing what's on." I mean just sitting in the waiting room without the phone. I mean having a happy hour on your porch. I mean sitting on a bench. You know these are the right things to do, and therefore, you know that they must also be the right things for children to do.

Let them be bored!

It is amazing the things they will come up with, the games they will play, and the characters they will be. It sounds weird, but here it is: you do not need to direct your child's play! Play is the one thing they are already really good at. (Disclaimer: You may need to direct their manners, work habits, and general cleanliness.) You do not need to direct their play.

Boys will throw rocks at trees. Girls will create an entire family. Both will ride bikes, chase, and play tag. No game that forces them to choose a character; no show that acts out families for them; no adventure that is laid out already will ever help them discover the wonder that is them.

By the way, in response to the last article, I looked into the Enlightened Ones. For fear of leaving out your favorite, I will not mention any by name.  Anyway, many of the Enlightened Ones spent time in meditation, contemplation, and reflection. We all know this, of course. But did you know that none of that time was spent in front of a TV or with headphones on? In fact, contrary to popular opinion, the Buddha did not have a Nintendo for "when he got bored on trips." Even as a kid. 

Let your mantra be: Be bored. Perhaps a real life will be lived.


From Lance:

It would seem the whole point of this article is exactly opposite of what it actually promotes: an active mind and body will never be truly bored.  One main point is to allow the opportunity and freedom for children to experience their world on their own terms sometimes, and probably more than they are currently allowed to.  Adults can certainly use more free time, as well.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have sat and thought through various problems, scenarios, and challenges, sometimes for extended periods, until my mind finally wandered through its myriad mysterious connections to piece together a reasonable solution or understanding of the situation currently occupying an otherwise unoccupied mind. 

Even just sitting still, watching the butterflies and birds flit by, gazing at flowers, smelling the wonders of the season (my nose seems especially sensitive to flowers, and I often stop in my tracks to find the source of some scent), can offer much needed respite from the constant need we feel to be driven to accomplish something.  You are accomplishing something by sitting still and observing, which is developing a more clear mind and deeper appreciation for the world around you.  You can find a whole world in the smallest areas, watching inch worms move along, tracing a trail of ants, watching how a caterpillar chews a leaf, seeing a jumping spider stalk a fly, watching bees visit flower after flower.  My son and I are almost never bored, for the moment we allow our minds to sit still, they will come up with something fun, inventive and more real than any TV program or video game. 

Related articles:
children, education, television, videos, Waldorf

About Lance Gardner
I have an interest in just about anything that gets me outside, as well as anything that is alive or grows, and in making things. So my hobbies include gardening, outdoors, photography, dogs, woodworking, and most importantly raising my son.

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