By Brian J.T. Watts
As an educator, I have always been committed to opening the minds of my students and pouring in effective mathematical skills coupled with undeniable logic. I believed that this gift of skills and logic would aid my students as they matured and faced difficult decisions. I dared to think that I was one of my students’ most effective teachers.
After almost 20 years as an educator, as a teacher and an administrator, I realized that there was a teacher much greater than I could ever hope to be. This teacher has the ability to captivate hearts and minds. This teacher has all of their lesson plans in order, and also has every tool and manipulation needed to make the lessons interesting and effective. This teacher will never need a sick or personal day and will gladly work overtime to influence the lives of their students.
Who is this teacher? This teacher, the real teacher…is the media.
Television shows, movies, music, and other types of media are educating our students more effectively than school teachers. Not because the teachers are inferior, but because of the glamorization of negative lifestyles and the advances in technology that allow people to watch television and/or listen to music no matter where they are. There is no question that our students are being influenced by what they are watching and hearing. Just think about it. The media is constantly ready every day. The television shows captivate minds, the music soothes, and even the commercials entertain. This teacher has more resources than any other teacher I know.
The media, at an alarming rate, is indoctrinating our children. Disrespect, betrayal, lying, stealing and many other negative qualities have become standard on most television shows and movies. Our youth end up cheering for characters that have questionable morals and do things we teach our children not to do. It has gotten so bad that many of the shows that cater to elementary and middle school students are negatively impacting their minds.
There are television shows on various networks that focus on the lives of kids. These shows typically tell the stories of school age kids (elementary to high school) who have parents that allow them to be much more independent than most kids their age. These children seem to run their own lives and make their own decisions. The worst part is these young people challenge the authority of the adults in their lives in almost every episode–their parents, teachers, administrators, even the police. More times than not, the authority is challenge by a child and the child wins and/or manipulates the situation to fulfill his/her purpose all in a 30-minute episode.
Imagine the effect such a show could have on your child. How will your child ever respect the authority of an adult when so many shows are telling them that adults are stupid and easy to fool? Even when the child is caught and punished, the punishment is so light that it seems that no consequences occurred. Furthermore, some of the music on the radio nowadays is just as bad. When lyrics encourage young people to do what they want to do, the effect is detrimental to our society.
Where are we headed if our children refuse to yield to authority? How will they be taught? A good start would be increased communication. What do your children think about the shows they watch? Do they agree with the actions of the characters? Do they relate with certain characters? Do your children understand why consequences must follow their actions? I know that many people do not have the time to patrol everything their children watch on television or listen to on the radio. However, conversations with your children can give you a chance to learn what the media is teaching them. You will be amazed with the things you will learn during a conversation with your child. They may have much stronger opinions about the things they see and hear than you would ever imagine. Their minds really are sponges, but not just for the media: they may soak up the things you say as well.
Taking out this time for them can make you the real teacher in their lives. You may not have all of the resources that the media has, but you have your child’s heart. You have a connection that can be much stronger if you work on it consistently.