Television is a window into possibility and potential. It is an amazing tool in our lives and one that I can’t imagine living without as a Radical Unschooling family.
There is a lot of anger surrounding television in the naturally minded community. Articles about “Killing Your TV!” are everywhere and they are so steeped in a fear and misinformation. This same type of fear surrounding media was present before the invention of the television with radio and before then, comic books were the target. Television has only been popular in homes since the 1950’s! It is such a new invention historically, and the way that many people react to something “new” is with fear in our culture.
When used as a tool for expansion, joy and learning, television is as valid and enriching as any book or resource available.
When television isn’t restricted and parents and children live in a partnership paradigm through Unschooling, rather than the cultural authoritarian paradigm, kids aren’t afraid to ask parents questions about topics introduced to them through television. There has never been a time where any of my children were interested in watching something that I was not comfortable with them experiencing. Television is not a means of escape for our children, nor is it a power struggle where they need to strive for their autonomy.
When a power struggle is part of the experience, children will watch programs that they are not ready for all for the sake of wanting freedom of choice. This is never something my children need to do, because they are respected in how much television they want to watch. They have complete freedom in this regard and because of this, they only watch what they are ready for. They have no interest in shows that are sexually explicit or shows that are ultra-violent. Also, we have Tivo, so they never need to watch commercials, which I know are a big issue with a lot of people. However, there are times that we do like to watch commercials, especially around Christmas time when we can see what is available in our world today! We have a fabulous time together seeing the new toys on the market and we discuss whether or not they truly do what the advertisers claim they do. This has been an amazing resource for our children to learn about advertising. Sometime we purchase something we see advertised on television and have a great experience! Other times, we learn that the item wasn’t what the advertisers claim it to be.
Living a life of freedom and respect with my children, I can be a free-thinker. I can see the benefits of things that most people fear. I can bask in the knowing that my children are the proof and no “expert” can fear me into following their beliefs. I can truly trust myself and my children.
It can be hard to let go of the fears surrounding media when first learning about Unschooling. It takes a lot of undoing cultural and even sub-cultural ideals to walk this path with your children. Once you begin to value your own experiences and your children’s choices over the fears and judgments of others, you have come one step closer to living a free-thinking life.