Friday, July 23, 2010

Reading vs. Educational TV

Here's a question for you all:

If my son is just not in the mood to read, is it OK for him to watch educational TV (History Channel, National Geographic Channel) instead?

The other day I told him to go watch something educational. I must have been completely out of my mind. But I was in the middle of something I couldn't stop and he was bored out of his mind. But then I got to thinking:

  • Well, obviously it's better than playing video games.
  • He's learning
  • He's visual - so he might even remember it better
  • He's learning something he may not be willing to read
  • Isn't some of the point of reading to learn about a topic of interest?

A week ago he was flipping thru the channels at bedtime and came across a special on Hitler. WWII has been slowly becoming an interest of his. He knows he'll be studying it this year at school. And earlier in the month we watched the movie "A Diary of Anne Frank". Earlier in the spring we watched "The Boy in Stripped Pajama's". He's asked questions about that particular time period since then. He wanted to stay up and watch the special. So we let him - he watched that one, and the Part II afterwards. And then talked about it quite a bit.

And not that he'll be allowed to watch educational TV vs reading, and I'm certainly not saying his education should come primarily from video, but, what's the value of watching a special on some aspect of history or science vs reading? And if that captures his interest even more and then he wants to read up further, isn't that better than saying go read for 20 minutes because the schools say you should?


Stimey said...

It seems perfectly reasonable to let his interests dictate his actions. As long as educational TV doesn't replace reading it seems fine to let him do it.

He's a very cool kid, by the way. It was fun to hang out with him a little.

Bridgette said...

lolwat. Heaven forbid your kid watch television? Seriously, why is everyone convinced that reading is "better" than watching TV? What differentiates educational television from educational reading isn't the content, but the way it's presented. So maybe instead of improving his reading comprehension, he's improving his watching and listening skills; at any rate, something is being exercised. You wouldn't tell him to disregard lectures in school and learn things solely from a textbook, would you? The only real thing to be concerned about, here, and it's a fairly minor concern, is that a television program's primary goal is to catch and maintain viewer interest; education and getting the facts right comes second. But, MINOR CONCERN.

Eh, really though, I'm just a Stranger From The Internet who's more concerned that you're actually asking The Internet if it's ok to let your kid watch educational programming than whether or not you allow him to. Are you really that concerned, or are you just trying to impress the other helicopter mothers in your circle of friends? I don't know, I haven't bothered to read your other blog entries, nor do I think I will. Seriously, though, I think you need to relax. Most current evidence points to Nature being FAR more influential than Nurture in a person's development.
At any rate, I spent a much greater percentage of my childhood between TV, video games, and the internet than immersed in literature, and I think you can agree that I'm a long shot from ignorant... If a little opinionated. :P