TV or web?

We very seldom watch TV, and have not for about 30 years. I say “seldom” because sometimes TV is forced upon us, as at the gym, in some restaurants, and in other people’s homes. About 25 years ago I recorded several reasons for rejecting television:

  • It has an exaggerated focus on certain aspects of society—notably crime, sex and violence—and therefore an incorrect view.
  • It offers a simplistic, and therefore incorrect, view of the world.
  • The video portion of the broadcast usually detracts from its intellectual content, if any, thereby obscuring the point.
  • The viewer cannot interactively review or clarify the informational content of a broadcast.
  • The viewer cannot interactively question or debate the content of a broadcast.
  • Television trains the viewer to have a short attention span.
  • The act of viewing is anti-social, thus impeding intellectual interaction.
  • It keeps the viewer away from true learning experiences, especially reading.
  • By alternating segments of programs with commercials, any program content is made to look trivial.
  • “Educational” TV promotes learning as “fun,” thus also promoting dissatisfaction with school, self-study and serious discourse.

In reference to the last point, I wrote at the time that for these reasons TV is neither educational nor even neutral, but rather anti-educational. Although structured, TV offers content that is generally low-brow or insubstantial, and offers it in a distracting context.

Today we have the internet, which is unstructured, and which contains vast quantities of substantial content (and even more trash). Unfortunately, this is in an extremely distracting context.  Even the freedom and multiplicity of choices offered by the internet detract from its educational value.

Good educational materials have structure, focus, and (carefully delimited) appropriate content, as found in a well-designed textbook.

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