A Balanced Use of Educational Media
I. The medium of television has inundated American culture.
A. From age five to age eighteen, an American child has viewed over 15,000 hours of television.
B. Once movie attendance and listening to radios and stereos is factored in, the exposure hours to electronic media easily reaches 20,000 hours.
C. This is at least double the amount of time which a child spends with school and homework.
II. There are some important differences between electronic curriculum and
traditional classroom/printed curriculum.
A. The most obvious differences involve setting:
1. In a classroom, content is more important than attention via entertainment; with television, the converse is true.
2. A classroom, mirroring life itself, is a “penalty-laden curriculum”; television is not.
3. Television has the advantage of continuousness and imminence.
4. Commercial television’s learning modules are extremely short.
5. Classroom curriculum is community centered; television curriculum tends to reinforce what Christopher Lasch has labeled “cultural narcissism.”
B. The most important difference is that the two curricula use different alphabets.
1. The traditional classroom uses language—a “digital” code of information.
2. Television uses pictures—an “analogic” code of information.
C. The traditional curriculum stresses cause-and-effect, linear history; television
curriculum stresses the non sequitur.
D. Traditional and television curricula also present differing templates of authority/authoritarian structures.