Joyce Fetteroll, responding on the Unschooling Discussion list, 2003
The green quotes are a now-anonymous doubter.
I must admit, I am floored that so many of you on the list seem to feel exactly the same way: that television is ok in any amount.
No, I don't feel that way.I haven't watched television regularly for about 10 years. for me, it is a decision i made long before being a mother—it is not like I prevent Emily from watching, and then go and watch it myself when she's asleep.
Is a nonreading parent who forbids her child to read more noble than a reading parent who forbids her child to read?I get the feeling that many of you are saying that this is not okay, that it is impossible to unschool without using television.
I think TV is like the library and the internet. While its possible to unschool without them—some people live far from decent libraries and don't have internet access—I question why anyone would voluntarily choose to cut themselves off from a valuable resource.Please keep in mind that I respect whatever decisions you make about your life, but I feel like you are criticizing me for wanting to do things differently, and not even inviting the potential that I might be doing something that works for me.
Why do you care what we think? That's an honest question.I have come to realise that for me it is an issue of thinking that our culture has values that I don't want to promote to my child, and television is the grand mascot for those values.
Another sensible belief. But does it match reality? Do the people here have children with values that match TV more than match their families? My daughter sees other values on TV (and in books and in real life), but she can compare and contrast them to what is in her home and decide which feels better. So far her values are very similar to my husbands and mine.I think I am here to change my culture (or my experience of it) for the better—to build a community and a closeness with people that I never had when I was growing up.
Then you should provide access to that for your daughter. We parents will all naturally end up providing greater access to the things we enjoy sharing than the things we don't.I agree with John Taylor Gatto that tv is in the same league as mass schooling, that it is a brainwashing tool.
Then why aren't the children who have free access to TV brainwashed?I have observed firsthand that my daughter ignores visitors when there is ANY video playing, and that deeply disturbs me. TV is the only thing that stops her from socializing.
Kids who are restricted will latch onto opportunities to absorb what interests them when they have the chance. Kids who aren't restricted, who do know they can do something later, don't. (At least the kids who are mature enough to be able to wait. But often I have a hard time putting aside something that truly interests me for something that's less interesting but polite.)Admittedly [the internet] can be abused too, but I don't use it for "entertainment." I think television is very different from the internet.
Thoughts and opinions that don't match reality should be rethought.I think human beings as a race have a reckless disregard for the natural balance of our ecosystem, and a brash consumerism and commercial culture that promotes buying instead of feeling. we are running away from something. (not saying you all are like this— actually I love the way you talk about the rhythm of your days, the freedom) ...everytime
And I think you're running away from exposing your daughter to different opinions so she can decide for herself.I turn on the TV I see this promoted. I see disattachment, punishment, abuse, and gratuitous violence.
And why would your daughter find these more attractive than what's in your home?The images that television passively recorded for me, because my parents let me watch whatever I want, disturb me to this day: things like people getting shot, car chases, and buildings exploding.
Why did you watch them if they were disturbing? Why didn't you do something else?I appreciate less than 5% of what I see on TV, though, and that is not enough to make it worthwhile to have in my home.
I appreciate less than 5% of what I see on sports programs. Would that be a good reason to decide my husband shouldn't watch them? Or maybe, if I wanted to understand him better, I would ask him questions about what he loves about sports and try to understand his appreciation. Which I have done and do. I went to plenty of games as a kid and enjoyed them but can't appreciate the competition so they all seem the same to me. I don't like watching sports any better but I love the fact that he gets a great deal of enjoyment out of them.I also don't feel it is necessary to introduce video and film as a medium to a young child, when they are in a learning phase which is primarily multi-sensorial in nature.
The best expert on your child is your child. If you trust experts to tell you that your daughter needs something other than what your daughter chooses to do—given that she has a sufficiently wide range of choices—then you're not going to be able to unschool successfully. You will constantly be at odds with what she wants and what the experts say she needs.I will have no problems having tv in the house if my daughter insists on it when she is older.
Can a child freely choose something that she knows her parents disapprove of without feeling that her parents disapprove of her?So the way i see it, there seem to be simple things I can do to make a difference and live closer to the life i want to live.
What if your daughter wanted a different life and decided you needed to live the way she wanted to? What if she wanted to stay up to 3 am because she felt night time hours were the most creative hours of the day? What if she made you stay up even though you found dawn hours to be more creative?I try to focus instead on spending as much time as we can together—the only kind of passive activity I need on a regular basis is being in nature.
Then those are what you should choose for you. I'm sure you wouldn't want your husband or daughter to impose other values on you and make you adhere to their values.