For the past week I have not had access to television, phones, internet or other forms of technology. Our vacation took us away from the frenetic life we live and provided us with a few days of peace and relaxation. As I sat in the airport I looked up to the flat screen tv and saw that teenagers had been mauled by bears, another famous singer had overdosed, a crazy person killed 80 kids in a seemingly peaceful country. These rapid images made me think that we had just been in the woods and seen several bears; we could have been eaten. We had been in another country and some crazy person could have come after us. With all of our hiking along mountains we could have died. In the few seconds I focused on the television I allowed the media to create in me a sense of insecurity. Although bad things do happen, my family’s reality was a wonderfully peaceful and safe vacation.
A few years ago our local newspaper offered to provide free daily newspapers to any classroom that signed up. This sounded like excellent material to provide nonfiction teaching opportunities. The first day I taught a mini lesson on the parts of nonfiction text and then had the students search to find the elements in their newspaper. As I circulated around the room complimenting each student for the element they had found, I noticed a group of boys gathered around a particularly fascinating article in the newspaper. As I got closer to this group I found that the local department store lingerie ad was the nonfiction element that they had focused on. I quickly moved them on to a different page and hoped I wouldn’t be getting a phone call later. The next comment I heard was about a recent riot and the violence that resulted. It became very obvious that even though our newspaper wanted to inspire the next generation of readers, I didn’t want to be the cause of polluting the minds of the same generation of readers.
In time I have learned to do better at previewing the newspaper and focusing students on safe sections of reading. I use all forms of technology and media in my classroom during the year, but I must be vigilant because each one has its own pit falls. I have come to understand that we have a class of people in our country that love to soak in the mire of human evil. As these families procreate, you and I receive students who come to our classes and look forward to fights, they love to stir up classroom gossip, and they want to tell you about the R rated trash they stayed up late watching the night before. Since these families are unconcerned with their child’s morality it becomes the job of teachers to filter out the mire of this world and to help our students focus on what is really important.
I know that we need to be informed, but part of the reason that many kids are so happy is because they are not informed. I find that the more aware students are of the filth of this world the sadder their lives become. I think this is where the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss” can be applied.
In my classroom I am going to strive to create the safe caring environment that so few people get to experience today. If I am successful I think that my classroom will be more like a vacation and less like the evening news.
(What do you think about the benefits or evils of media in our classrooms?)