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Friday, February 1 2002

Educational television - 2

When I chose "educational television" as the title of yesterday's entry I had no intention of making the topic PBS, the Public Broadcasting System. I thought that since many people think of PBS as educational television, it would, however, make a good introductory point. And from there the PBS "subtopic" just took over, as loose thoughts often do in my writing

What I did intend was to discuss the educational aspect of watching commercial television. Though the ongoing theme this week has been the negative influences of the medium, in my life it seems to have made positive contributions. I've already made mention of how I took cues from Bill Cosby about how to interact with my children, always playfully and yet with a serious purpose. I think that's been one of the most important lessons I ever learned. When my wife left the marriage leaving me to parent on my own, even though of course I was already interacting with my children every day, it suddenly became vital to have a sound approach that would keep us both upbeat and positive, especially while coping with my own grief and depression over the breakup.

I've also written several times about the formative effect the Loretta Young Show had in my teens, undergirding my academic and work ethics. Perhaps I already had the values it was teaching (I'd like to think that my mother and Sunday school were more important than any TV program or character), but even if that's the case, the program undoubtedly contributed much to my ability to identify and articulate my principles and pointed me in ways to pursue my education. Even earlier, I appreciated Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet as shows helping me get targets to shoot for in my future roles as husband and father.

All of which add up to a lament about the state of television today. Though young kids may still watch those earlier shows on Nickelodian, older ones are fed a steady diet of nothing but sex and self-centeredness, even in the alleged comedies of today. Is there anything left on the sitcom side of current TV broadcasting? Sadly, the closest approximation of that that I can think of is The Simpsons, which I confess to enjoying (and it's the only comedy show treating a family that attends church regularly), but its positive lessons are always edged in cynicism, so I can't be sure the net effect is educational in a positive way.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Kids' views on marriage


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to
know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.

—Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.

—Martin, age 10
Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the Day

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

—Khalil Gibran

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