, pub-8985115814551729, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Free Printable Lesson Plans: Puddleglum's Apologia or What's wrong with TV, computer games and screen time?

Puddleglum's Apologia or What's wrong with TV, computer games and screen time?

Hello friends of this free printable lesson plans blog! Teacher Omi of the Omschool blog here and in the New Year, I'm thinking of ways to make activities less "see and hear" and more "do"! Let's explore how we as educators can help kids engage critical thinking skills by watching less--TV, computer, phones, screens--and interacting more. 

I'm a Montessori special educator, grounded in hands-on, learning center based, VAKT, higher order thinking skills education. I'm all about getting kids away from TV and computer screens, off the internet and into real-life learning activities. 

Now this might seem daunting as so much of current educational activity is computer-based. And while working with technology is an important skill, it is one kids can and will learn everywhere. What they engage far less in, and need much more of, is DOING: touching, smelling, tasting and experimenting with. While see and hear shows them things, multisensory experiences teach. 

This is obviously going to take a lot of unpacking, so let's begin by clarifying just what is so wrong about TV, screen and computer based activities. Yes, I did say wrong. It's not just that screens are less effective teachers. They're insidiously dangerous. 

Computer-based activities are less so because at least the child is doing something if only inputting data (the lowest form of  learning). But they're stultifying because they don't teach in real-life ways. They rely on magical thinking, exaggerated characters, lurid colors, artificial sounds, and strangely contrived situations, that completely contrast with a child's experience with the real world. And that doesn't even begin to address the lack of creative thinking, imagination and doing required. (But we will, rest assured!)

What worries me even more are the kids TV shows. All that was bad with the video games and computer activities is magnified 100-fold. An unrealistic computer generated cartoon character behaves in unreal ways that defy the laws of nature. Animals are cute little candy-colored creatures that talk and dress like people. They don't get hurt (at least on realistically). They aren't depicted as they really are. They're "cool" and smart and everything always works out. They fly, leap, bounce off things and never fall. In contrast, a gravity-bound child who is subject to the laws and rules of the real world, feels feeble knowing she can't do that.  

Staring at games or TV shows deadens a child's ability to think for herself or even know that she can. Everything is scripted, spoon-fed and done for her. Nothing is required. She experiences only vicariously. She learns that she doesn't impact her world and is not a participant but just an observer. This creates a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and apathy. 

She also learns that she is not only useless, but worthless. It isn't necessary for her to even watch this or that show. It will still happen. She learns she doesn't matter. She's just the straight man, the schlimazel. When I was a kid, Bugs Bunny and Superman were faulted for making us think we too were invincible. That we could eat gunshot-laden birdseed and not explode. But we didn't watch Superman all day and no one knew what an anvil was or thought to drop it on someone's head. 

And I haven't even touched on the "real-life" TV shows where "real" kids (Ryan's World) and adults (Blippi) play with toys all day and never do anything that normal kids are expected to do. They do whatever they want with no consequences. They never do the boring work or difficult jobs that are a part of life. Rules don't apply. And kids see this and think it's real life and their own lives are what's unreal.

No wonder so many adolescents disappear into video games and don't know how to interact in life. They have been taught that real life is boring and of course it is compared to the fake, Marvel-verse they see on screen. No wonder that so many adults cannot hold down a job or walk down the street without all sorts of adaptations, therapy animals and medications. They have been conditioned to think they are broken, compared to the fake-whole they see on screen. They have been confused by what is real and what is pretend.  No wonder self-harm is so alarmingly prevalent now. 

Factor into that the marketing to (exploitation of ) children through these shows and it's a pandemic that threatens to destroy childhood. Please, for the love of children, pull the plug or at least limit screen time to an hour a day. 

Kids should spend the bulk of their days, running, jumping, pretending to be a train engineer, building forts, having acorn tea parties, making messes and having to clean them up, helping with chores. They'll learn resilience and self-reliance, They feel self-respect when they learn to be bored but behave, running errands without being given a phone to stare at. They should fall and learn they can get back up, dust themselves off and ask for help if needed. 

Most important, children need to learn that they CAN. They can explore, invent, fail, fall, experiment, try again, spill, drop, fix, survive, implement, apologize, interact, get along, try and see, wait, get mad, get disappointed, problem solve and endure. These activities may not look as glamourous as they do on Paw Patrol but they are also not fake. 

I'll end with a quote from Puddleglum, the Marshwiggle to the Green Lady (Witch) in "The Chronicles of Narnia" "The Silver Chair." The Witch was gaslighting Puddleglum and the children into believing that her dark underworld was the real one and that the world they described was imagination. Puddleglum said, after being tortured (*wipes tears)

"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow."

#Respect! And that's how I see TV vs. real life. Real life isn't perfect. We aren't perfect. We stumble and don't always do it right. We aren't always brave. We can't fly and we feel pain. But for all that, it beats a fake, computer-generated world "hollow"! 

Thanks for reading. I'll post more about this later. 

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