Christina M. Currie: Educating the uneducated
December 21, 2007
I have some questions about the value of educational programming. I mean, I learn a lot, but all my children learn is how little I actually know.
It’s fairly humbling, and it’s making it more and more difficult to maintain my position as the mother who knows it all.
I mean, really, I’m considering a ban on all television that has any educational content at all.
What else can I do? My reputation is at stake.
The Discovery Channel recently has been airing a series entitled “Planet Earth,” and we catch as much of it as we can.
It sparks some interesting discussions. My girls like the parts where there are animals that are either colorful or cute. That means they focus mostly on fish and the parts where there are babies.
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One episode showed a herd of bison in a blinding snowstorm being stalked by a wolf.
The wolf, as hunters of the wild do, targeted the youngster that had been left behind when the herd scattered and regrouped.
This broke 7-year-old Katie’s heart, and she instantly hated the wolf.
“Why would he do that?” she asked.
“Because if he doesn’t, he’ll starve and die.”
She was struck silent, engrossed, I suppose, with a new form of combat where it’s not about winning – it’s about survival. Until that moment, her consideration was absolute. There was a good guy, and there was a bad guy – and it was easy to decide which was which.
In a battle of survival, it’s difficult to play favorites.
For me, that was the easiest question with the hardest answer. The rest of the show elicited hard questions with easy answers.
I just didn’t know them.
The girls continually asked “what’s that?” just as the narrator was speaking, so I missed the dialogue that would have given me the answer and made me sound like I knew what I was talking about.
Instead, I first tried, “I don’t know.”
“Yes you do,” 6-year-old Nikki stated. “Cause you know everything.”
Caught in my own trap.
So, I fell back on that invaluable tool all parents use.
I made stuff up.
I know. It’s a solution that will one day bite me in the butt, but for now :
The girls watched penguins huddle in 75 degree below zero temperatures and asked, “when did that happen?”
I told them it happens all the time, that it’s happening now.
Nikki looked outside.
“But it’s not snowing now.”
The problem with these educational programs is that my children look, but don’t listen, and then expect me to fill in the blanks, something I can’t do without charts, encyclopedias and a globe. A globe would have been real handy at that point.
After a few hours of getting educated, I eased us onto the movie channel to where we watched Lord of the Rings in blissful silence.
Mostly because they’d turned their attention to other endeavors.
I guess everyone has their limits when it comes to being educated.
I could’ve used that time to do a little research, but I’ve been down that path before. By the time I triumphantly announce the correct answer, they’ve forgotten they asked.
So, in the same spirit, I’m hoping they’ve forgotten that when they asked, I didn’t know.
I’m hanging on to this all-knowing guise for as long as I can. To do that, my girls are going to have to stop doing educational things.