Moon Watching

So we started reading Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television the other day…out loud, in the evenings. ? (I know it seems a bit extreme, but bear with me.) ? The thesis is that television, by its nature, is destructive to human lives and communities, no matter how nice or educational the programming tries to be. ? I’m sure I’ll be revisiting that idea later, but I think we’re already trying to benefit from one of the observations included in Mander’s first argument. ? He points out how disconnected we, especially we who live in the city or suburbs, are from the earth and its workings. ? Our food comes from stores, not plants in the ground; our water comes from faucets, not streams or rain showers; the greenery we do see is chosen and arranged by humans, not nature. ? Many, if not most, of us have lost our connection to the natural world, the world essentially unmodified by human hands (and machinery). ?

So tonight Craig and Lucy sat outside on the hammock and watched the moon play hide-and-seek behind the clouds. ? It was the fullest, brightest moon I have seen in a very long time. ? They looked at the stars, the few you can see through all the New Orleans light pollution. ? It was so simple, but somehow so profound as well. ? This is the kind of experience I want my children to remember when they are thirty-five. ?

When was the last time you noticed the moon?

TV-free

Craig stumbled on an interesting article the other day about the damage screen time (TV, computer, etc.) can do to the developing brain.? You can read the rest of the article here, but I’d like to share just the conclusion for its insights:

“We human beings are a strange bunch. We grind up grains that appeal to a dog’s extremely sensitive sense of taste and press these into shapes resembling cartoon bones. Then we package these cartoon bones in colorful boxes that appeal to human adults because dogs would never do such a thing. The same is true of babies. Babies would never buy Baby Einstein videos. They are too busy playing and learning from the real world. The real consumers of Baby Einstein products are not babies. The real target is parents and grandparents who want their little darlings to be the next Einstein. I’m quite sure that Baby Einstein products are well produced, colorful and captivating. But the medium is the message, not the program flashing on the screen. I prefer to squish peas in my mashed potatoes, thank you.”

-“Just Say NO to Baby Einstein”
By Michael Mendizza

His main point is that the real world is a much better educator for a child than anything PBS can dream up, but there are so many places to go with this!? First of all, it does say something about a society that views intelligence as a commodity.? We all want to get ahead, and we want our children to get ahead in their turn, and the best way to do that is for them to go to college, preferably on scholarship so we don’t have to pay for it, so we had better have them well prepared for preschool.? I want my kids to read early as much as the next parent, but because I want them to be able to enjoy books and grow from their own ability to investigate what interests them in these books, and if they end up at the top of the class, that is only lagniappe.

More importantly, the difference in Lucy, our two-year-old, between a TV-full day and a TV-free day is dramatic, at least in those little details we mothers tend to notice.? Like tantrums.? It would seem that less TV = fewer tantrums.? And as easy as it is for me to get work done while she sits mesmerized by hours of Elmo and friends, at the same time it is disappointing to realize that she is not interacting, or really acting at all, but mostly absorbing flashing lights.? (Sometime I will write about how close the “interactive” shows are to Ray Bradbury’s vision in Farenheit 451, but not today.)? Maybe it would be better for that load of laundry to stay unfolded if it means she gets to spend more time painting, playing with bread dough, or running outside.

So, for the time being, our TV has taken up residence in the bottom of our bedroom closet, and in the newly-cleaned out space next to its dark screen, Lucy has established a new place to hide and pretend.