How many homes have you been to where the furniture in the living room is arranged so that everyone has the best view of the television?
I remember a time when living rooms were arranged so that people could actually look at each other and talk together. (yes, I am that old.)
As I was growing up, we had pretty strict limits on watching the TV. We only had four channels, and there wasn't a whole lot on anyway. We never watched it after school - we always shined our shoes, did our homework and went outside to play in the bush or at the creek or riding our bikes. During school holidays, we sometimes watched the 'midday movie' if we were at home, our favourites were the musicals which we would then sing all afternoon, and even longer. I still remember the silly song (which became a family favourite) from "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" with Bing Crosby ..."I'm busy doing nothing working the whole day through...trying to find lots of things not to do...I'm busy going nowhere, isn't it such a crime...I'd like to be unhappy but.........I never do have the time....la la la la....". On the weekends, we maybe watched a couple of shows or a movie, but TV wasn't really a big part of our lives.
As we got older, we watched a little more, but not much. We always preferred swimming or playing snooker or cards or games or going for a bushwalk or to the beach...you get the idea.
Human beings were not designed to live alone. But so many have turned to the TV for a sense of community. We feel like we belong to the Hannah Montana tribe and the Survivor tribe and the True Blood tribe (etc) and, for brief periods, we get to live in another world, we get caught up in their dramas, we take on the way these people speak and act. The 'stars' of these shows are treated like little gods, paid enormous amounts of money and people spend hours dreaming about them, and try to dress like them and we lose our own individuality.
When one show ends, we skip over to another tribe. How many years of a persons life is used up just randomly skipping around, looking for something to satisfy, complaining that there is "nothing on", but not able to just turn it off and DO something that might satisfy that need for connection with self and other real live people?
I am talking about myself here too. I have not always had a community around me where my kids could feel a part of, people that they could spend hours playing and exploring and working with, and that I have used that big box as a babysitter. It does not feel 'right' to me. A lot of the 'kids' shows show behaviours that I know are not natural to my own children, but they imitate anyway. They disrupt the harmony in our home.
We live what a lot of people would call 'unschooling' in that we do not follow a strict curriculum. I prefer to call it 'living', or if you need a label - natural learning, life learning, self-designed living. A lot of unschoolers have no limits on media, food, and pretty much everything their children do. And I understand why they do that and the incredible Trust that allows them to do that. However, I don't think it works for everyone.
We have one main TV and another small one that is only connected to the playstation. We have two computers. And five people. We aim to consider everyone's needs, so we can't all have unlimited time on the computer or with the TV.
I like a couple of shows on TV, like "Glee" and "Doctor Who". Also, shows about travel, nature and science. I like hanging out and watching a movie or two, especially if it's raining outside. I just don't like the TV on all day. It disrupts MY harmony and I'm a valued member of this family as much as anyone else so I deserve to have my needs taken into account also.
When I met Cary, I was surprised at how much TV he watched. It was rather foreign to the way I'd lived. I chose to accept that about him. It's kind of funny that he doesn't really like watching it much at all now. He appreciates spending time with the family connecting, playing, chatting, doing things together, and spending time pursuing other interests he has.
I understand that 'Radical Unschoolers' would state that they see the value in everything their child wants to do, even if that is watching TV every waking moment for days, weeks or months. If that works for them, that's great. I'm not trying to RU. My priority is creating a home, a life, where we all have our needs considered, even if they do not get met right away. Where the focus is on connection and harmony and Joy and living OUR lives, deeply and fully.
There's so much more to life than being 'programmed' by others...that is why they call them 'programs' isn't it? My goal is to leave the box turned off much more than it has been, to live more in our own reality show, one that is unedited and absolutely authentic.