“Raise your hand if you’ve ever learned something from watching TV?” This is how Laura Endres opened one of her talks at a recent unschooling convention. A sea of hands went up in the audience, and she says, “The TV debate is over.” The TV is a learning tool.
I struggled with the issue of television watching in my home for a long time. I felt I needed to be restrictive and that my kids gravitated towards the TV much to often. We experimented with National Turn Off TV Week
, and it was a success. At that time we had every bell and whistle with our cable TV. It was free to us because Ian worked for the cable company. I struggled with all of the commercials and negativity that was spread through the TV.
Now several years have passed since we’ve had cable TV. The expense was too much, and it wasn’t worth it to me to pay to have stuff I didn’t want streamed into my house anyway. We now use a digital antenna and are able to receive about 8 channels, most of them being PBS channels and the basic networks. We also have a Netflix subscription and Poose’s family brought with them a subscription to Hulu. This has provided us with more than enough entertainment options. Our family has such a wide variety of ages and interests, yet we’ve been able to meet everyone’s needs this way.
My youngest enjoys shows like Super Readers, Wild Kratts and Ready, Jet Go!. My teens all enjoy shows like The Flash and Gilmore Girls. They are also big on YouTube and watching Rhett and Link and silly vines. Poose and I love to watch historical dramas. We recently finished watching Roots, we borrowed it from a friend, then passed it along to the children to watch. We are now hooked on English dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and our current favorite is Lark Rise to Candleford. As a family we all enjoyed the Civil War drama recently on PBS called Mercy Street.
I would say we have all learned from watching things on the TV. For me history has come alive through watching movies. The TV can be a learning tool. It can expose us to places and cultures that we may never able to visit in person. It can also expose us to new ideas, good and bad. We have found what works for our family. I prefer not to have hundreds of channels with commercials, but we have found a good balance for us taking advantage of PBS, Netflix and Hulu.
What works for your family? Do you use the TV as a learning tool? What are your favorite TV programs?