So What IS The Purpose of this Site?!

Whenever I decide to create a blog, or am introduced to one built by someone else, there are always  certain questions that inevitably leap to mind and that in relation to this site, is what I’d like to address in today’s posting.

  •  What is the purpose of the site?
  • Why blog about the topic?
  • Who can such a site benefit? Who’s the target audience and how do they benefit from such a site’s existence?
  • What does the blogger have to contribute that makes it worthwhile to read their blog rather than getting the information elsewhere.

So regarding this site, I decided to blog about the topic of educating through television programs for several reasons. First among them was that people around me were urging me to do so and telling me that the information and experience that I had, gained over years of using TV as a tool with my own kids was valuable to them personally and that my recommendations to them of programs helped their kids in a direct and immediate way. On further researching the topic I realized that no one out there was talking about the subject. I don’t know if this is because people are not using tv as an educational tool, are just not talking about it or are sheepish about admitting it because of the stigmas regarding TV and its ’emptiness’ and use as an ‘electronic babysitter’ and a poor excuse for parenting.  Be that as it may the topic isn’t being discussed online.

A Google search for TV and teaches returned articles about the negative attributes TV programs teach. I won’t deny those exist – but it’s not by any means the whole story. What’s more I highly favor parental involvement in the learning process. As such even negative characters or actions can, under proper supervision and explanation, be beneficial by providing kids with an example of negative behavior and the trouble it can lead to and the punishment it receives.

The intended audience for the site is in the main people who are now where I was a little over a decade ago. Back then I knew about a fair number of educational television programs, this having been a central part of my own upbringing, but I still a) had a limited amount of knowledge and b) was unfamiliar with the many wonderful programs that had come into existence in the years between my own childhood and having children.  Now over a decade later with countless hours of internet, TV and practical research under my belt I want to contribute from what I’ve learned to all those parents out there with kids young enough to benefit from it. Each person is their own world and so if I can help a single child this way it’ll have been worth putting up the blog just for them.

I hope as you read my reviews of programs and discussions of other educational topics on the site you’ll keep in mind the site’s goals

  •  To help parents use TV as a tool to expand and further their kids education
  • To assure parents that TV is a tool and its being bad or good all comes down to how it’s used
  • To save parents the need of trying to guess what shows are good and what kids respond to thanks to the aid of my practical experience with various children
  • To introduce parents and educators to programs that your kids will enjoy and learn from

  For those still concerned with the negative elements of television watching, please refer to my article regarding your qualms about using tv as an educational tool

What the purpose of this site is NOT

 Over the years people have often marveled at the educational results I’ve achieved with my kids by using TV as such an integral tool for teaching. But after they’ve expressed their admiration they inevitably make one (or more) of three comments

  • “I’d rather my kid read a book”
  • “Doesn’t TV ultimately just become a babysitter?”
  • “There may be some good TV programs out there but most of the stuff out there is junk and I really don’t want to risk my kids being exposed to that.”

 My answer to these people is that they’re right – to a certain extent. However I believe that their wariness is limiting and stands to deprive them of a very valuable educational tool

 Let’s look at their issues one by one. Let me begin by stating that books are a wonderful thing. I myself am a dyed in the wool bookworm, have studied for 3 degrees in literature at a top University and all my kids are readers (except the youngest who’s already been reading words for awhile but at 3 is not sitting and reading whole books quite yet) and I’m not talking about Goosebumps but about books with hundreds of pages – books above their age level. I’m also the former manager of a second hand bookstore.  But let’s face it – even we booklovers don’t want to read %100 of the time. Sometimes we simply want to be entertained.  There’s nothing shameful in that. Much of the greatest literature of all time – Shakespeare leaps immediately to mind – was originally meant to be viewed as a spectator rather than read as a book. Furthermore, using TV doesn’t mean not reading books. The purpose of this site is not to suggest that TV is the only way to teach but that it should be a method of instruction that you should include in your teaching arsenal. I’m not advocating TV replacing other educational methods but complementing them. And most importantly, while I have plenty to say about books – so do many people. I’m not saying that I couldn’t blog just as well as anyone else on the topic of the use of children’s books and reading in expanding a kids education. But you don’t actually need me for that as so many are already, for better or for worse, dealing with that topic. This topic, however, is thoroughly neglected and so I can offer you information that no one else is discussing.  I shall refer further to the this issue when considering why one should bother opening a blog at all in my contra-article to this about the purpose of tvteaches existing.

Does TV become an electronic babysitter (henceforth to be referred to as an EBS)? It can. In some cases it’s not even a bad thing. Even parents need a break now and then as we all well know and for a limited time there’s not even any great sin in a kid’s watching a program with no educational value. Obviously all programs should be previously checked out by the parents before exposing their kids to it for the first time to ensure that it doesn’t contain inappropriate material – same as with books!  However once that has been checked out there’s no problem using it in that manner. On the other hand, the answer to the question of whether it’s going to turn into an EBS really depends on the parent. It’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure that TV is used responsibly and to know what their child is being exposed to. I’m certainly not advocating using it as a substitute for parenting! On the other hand if you are going to be sticking your kid in front of the TV and you’re determining what they’re going to watch (and if you’re not then you have big problems already relating to parental control and discipline) I’d suggest that you consider choosing to give them (enjoyable) material they’ll benefit from educationally rather than commercialized fluff that at best gives them nothing and at worst imparts negative values.

 Is there a danger in your kid’s being “exposed to a lot of junk out there”? Yes, the dangers exist – as they do with books. But, as with the babysitting question above, that really depends on you the parent more than on the content available. TV is a tool and can be used positively or negatively. As the parent you’re the user of that tool and the one responsible for using it right and making sure your kids only use it right. I’ll bet %99+ of those reading this have at least one knife somewhere in the house that’s sharp enough to cut through skin and that’s within the reach of your kids.  Used properly nothing will cut through a carrot or a steak like a good knife. And so despite the dozens of negative uses for knives you keep it handy.

But in order to avoid any misunderstandings let me set out here what my purpose is not in creating this site.

 I did not create this site

  • to try and replace any already existing educational tools that you use.
  • As a license to park your kids in front of the TV and forget about your educational role as a parent
  • a guarantee that once you put your kid in front of a program they won’t change channels or switch DVDs at some point and be exposed to other material.

Your participation in your kid’s education plays a crucial role whatever tools you use and my purpose isn‘t to release you from responsibility for expanding your kids’ education. Rather it is to help you find effective tools to enable you to best carry out your educational goals for them.