Saturday, December 13, 2008

Media-and-culture dots ...

Once again I'm turning to lively and impassioned correspondence regarding the dots post of a few days ago.

This time the response is from the Red Electric's Tacoma correspondent, Aaron Corvin. The post is his second on the topic. His first is here.

(Note: Aaron was a University of Portland classmate of Lizi Zach, Berlin correspondent, and Chris Clair, Chicago correspondent now on special assignment for the Red Electric analyzing graft and corruption. To their credit, all three survived my teaching in the early '90s.)

Aaron is a journalist surfing the waves of change in the profession.
He sent me and his fellow correspondents a long "dot" response. I've decided to share part of it. It has to do with media, culture and parenting (Aaron and his wife, Nancy Nilles, another UP alum, journalist and former student, have an infant son, Ben.)

Here Aaron begins by referring to a story he wrote on educational reform.

.... I recall quoting a couple people talking about the need for parents to turn the damn TV off and to read and interact with their kids... This is where the parents can act or fail (among their other responsibilities in educating their children) in a really big way. I don't need to go into the Neil Postman research on the deteriorating effects of television, but my point is that beyond policy proposals and school-system fixes, we need people and leaders, like Obama, to start reinforcing the idea that we need to change our culture.

The venture capitalist I mentioned earlier said he thinks state governors, families, pastors, etc. need to speak out against the Culture of TV. Instead of schools celebrating the high-school football team's winning season like it's the Academy Awards, why not celebrate your math, science and English stars?

That's what they do in India and China, according to a former Microsoft executive I interviewed. He said those countries and their media treat good students like rock stars, even devoting entire sections of their newspapers to educational issues that inform families of what's going on inside the schools.

Can you point to a single American newspaper that takes education that seriously? Instead our newspapers splash the achievements of student athletes and sports role models all over their pages.

You have to change the context before people will listen and change their behavior. The context is the American political system, educational system and family. Why does America love sports? Why do we tune into the bluster and stupidity on the field and on the TV? Why aren't we tuning into our children?

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