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