October 15, 2007

If you fill their minds with mush..

You get, well...mush. I am speaking, of course, about children's books, children's television programming, children's toys, and just about anything else that children are expected to enjoy these days.

This post follows closely THIS post.

So, the other night I was choosing on of the two stories that my four-year-old brother demands I read him every night. I happily comply with these demands, as it is one of the few times that the wiggly kid will snuggle with me for more than two seconds at a time. I'm looking through his shelf, and seeing a fairly good representation of the development of children's books over the last two decades. Near the bottom (and in a hard to find spot, unfortunately) we find the great old books I had in my childhood. Dr. Seuss, among other creative but essentially meaningless stories is the main attractant. Next are books from the mid nineties, a hodge-podge of the Barney opposite books and a few creative stories for "beginning readers". Farther north, we have mindless trash about letters and numbers, opposites, and putting pictures in their place. Gone are the imaginative, albeit confusing, plots of the classic stories I used to enjoy, and still do when I read them aloud. I honestly am surprised at how quickly these books degenerated.

I am going to propose an explanation. In the advent of a scientific, secular age in which heresay and fan.tasy are shoved into a back corner, the end has become much more important than the means. Instead of getting a child to be excited about reading by giving him engaging stories about far-off lands like Narnia or interesting creatures like the Goop or whatever else, we give him mishmash designed to give him the utmost learning experience. But what's the point of that? Instead of giving him a wonderful story that teaches him much more about the real world, we spoon-feed the children facts and numbers. "No, we can't trust the children to read and learn for themselves, we must make sure they learn only what they want them to." It would seem that I mispoke earlier. It is the means, not the end, that is all important. We can't have children excited about learning or being voracious readers or being imaginative. No, we have to make a scientifically engineered learning environment where every kid gets the same thing.

Television shows are experiencing the same horrible degeneration. At the moment, my little brother is glued to the tube as it throws colors, numbers, and experiences at him. Again, we have the same spoon-feeding syndrome. I'm going to name this. *glosses* Cochlear Pascivity, or CP. So from this Cochlear Psacivity of this modern pop cu.lture, we get shows like Teletubbies, where instead of the glorious creatures of Seuss we have odd-looking yellow bears that say, "Number...oooooh." Scratch that, they don't even pronounce things correctly. The same is true of all the new TV shows these days. Instead of the wonderful stories, fables, and parables that taught the children of yesteryear very succesfully, we have scientists concocting shows that spoon feed the child numbers and letters. And don't get me started on the flagrant lack of any moral quality.

So what does this Cochlear Pascivity in childhood lead to in adu.lthood? I can't be sure, as the first generation of it is at about my age. But trust me, we shall see plenty of it in the future. The whole society is being lead to have this Cochlear Pascivity - this expactancy that everything is to be handed to them, that they don't have to work for anything. In the (decreasing) Capitalist economy we have in this country, that attitude leads directly to poverty. In poverty, the man has no option other than working or feeding off of the goverment through wealth redistribution. And that leads to more votes for the Socialists, as the poor cannot cut themselves off from their livelihood.

This may seem like doom and gloom speak, but it is the conclusion I draw. Honestly, I cannot help but draw a link between the Socialists taking over America and this Cochlear Pascivity. The Intelligentia seem to be controlling both. Ah well, I'll just continue to try and write literature for all ages, and see if this cu.lture war can't be won.

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Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

There's nothing wrong with numbers and letters, of course, but leaving them as the only thing to be fascinated by is rather dumb. As for the Teletubbies, I wouldn't even say they teach anything; they are what I call "talking baby-talk to babies", which as we all know is of more value to the talker than to the baby himself, who needs to be learning real words. Take, in contrast, Mr. Rogers, who is gentle, calm, and explains things at a level children can understand, yet is as far from the mindless Teletubbies as Homer is from our pop stars. Sesame Street is debated, as some people think it is part of the short-attention-span quick-blipping show genre. I personally think that a short time is all that is worth spending at once on those mere letters and numbers, for one thing, and for another that those seem to be just in-between jazz in the midst of a relatively intelligent kids program. Anyway. As for books, I am not sure ion some instances that beginning with, say, "The sky is blue. The ocean is blue." is necesarily bad, given that it's an exercise in the most basic functions of the intellect, with the caveat that any intelligent child should quickly want to move on to more. But of course, there's a fine line between "the sky is blue, the ocean is blue, etc." and "1. 2. 3. 4. 5." robotspeak. Unfortunately, the modern intelligentsia has shown a peculiar knack for being blind to fine lines.
-Not a comentary on the post so much as my own musings aroused by the post.

October 15, 2007 8:47 PM  
Blogger ~Ambrose said...

You're right, there's nothing intrinsically WRONG with the letters and numbers, the problem is that the letters and numbers have REPLACED the great old stories.


October 16, 2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger Samuel said...

You have an immense point, though I'm going to have to say that you're both sorta wrong as far as the comments go. The numbers and letters replacing the stories IS the problem with them. There are two choices here, and cannot coincide at the early age we are speaking of at the specific time: One is being a smart kid, which I've seen before, though never seems to be very common. Two is to be a good-natured kid, which I see incredibly rarely, though hear from grandparents and parents alike that "kids are changing for the worst." The number and letter humdrum that keeps repeating in the child's head aren't helping him/her to be a better person, just to be faster at learning. I, for one, think that a combination of the two is seemingly impossible in the modern age...UNLESS America can pull itself away from the seemingly hypnotic repeating of letters, numbers, and making a child want to learn. Wanting to learn is a nature, and the habit can be made by teaching them virtues that are required to possess this nature, and ultimately cause them to be willing students.

As a scenario, a boy stares at a TV for his first few years listening to the robotic repetition of the alphabet and number one through ten. When he gets into preschool where they teach that, is he going to have a good time because he already knows it? He had already spent the past three years getting fat and becoming lazy with that as part of his daily routine, why should he want to be still and listen to them?

Another scenario is we take a boy who spends his first years listening to music such as Mozart, and when early enough to understand, his parents read him stories from their generation, like Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, and the beloved Dr. Seuss, who is still one of my favorites. He goes to school with the knowledge of being still and being willing, and when he's not at preschool he's playing with his friends and telling them how awesome Peter is and how they should play pretend.

Take boy one (the "letter and number infused") and boy two (the classically worked) and compare them. *rests case*

October 23, 2007 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solution in one word: Anime

The only problem is that it is really more teen-oriented and when it gets 4-kidzed, its just... gag-inducing.

And we also don't need any of "Tom and Jerry" or anything starting with "Barbie." Ever noticed that the "old" fairies were evil and the "new" faries are perfect little angels with sugerplums exc? I think the "old" and the "new" need to have a little "talk"...


August 07, 2008 12:41 PM  

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