TV-Turnoff Week, part 1

       In my classroom, I used to wonder why children laughed if I fumbled with something I was demonstrating to them. My accidentally dropping a chalkboard eraser on myself was cause for great peals of laughter.

        These things didn’t happen every day, mind you. But when they did, and I saw the children’s hysterical reactions to them, it led me to ponder the source of their glee.

        Then, one day, it hit me: they were reacting to me the same way they do to the slapstick situations that are created for them on television and in the movies.

        There are, however, huge differences between the situations. First of all, I am a real person, whom they know. Secondly, I have not created the situations specifically for their amusement.

        Once I made the connection and brought a discussion about it to my students, I could see that it made an impression on some of them. With others, however, I could see that they generally showed little sensitivity to the feelings of others, let alone their teacher.

        During parent conferences, some parents were able to confirm for me what I had suspected: their children watch television for as many as four hours a day on school days and even more on the weekends.

        In my at-home life, what has had the strongest effect on me was reading Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey’s third habit is "Put first things first." In that chapter, he formulates "The Time Management Matrix," in which he displays that our time is spent in one of the four following quadrants:

  1. Important and urgent, such as crises that spring up and working on projects driven by deadlines.
  2. Not important but urgent, such as ringing telephones and interruptions.
  3. Important and not urgent, such as planning, recreational activities, and spending time with the people we care about.
  4. Not important and not urgent, such as engaging in trivial activities.

        At that point, I examined my own use of time and realized that I was spending entirely too much of it watching television, which was neither important nor urgent.

        I am now happily living without a television.


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