(Bradbury) – (Boob-tube) = (Books)

Just had a moment to peruse my favorite few blogs, and Mental Multivitamin caught my eye with a piece on Ray Bradbury.  Although I’m a big sci-fi fan, I’ve only read one of his books cover-to-cover…  perhaps I was too young, or just a bit ADD at the time, but I never became a huge fan.  Nevertheless, the book mentioned was the one I’d read – Fahrenheit 451.  Surprisingly, the claim is that the book which, to me, was quite obviously about government censorship and authoritarianism turns out to not be about that at all.  According to Bradbury, it’s about his fear that television will kill books.  Now that I’ve heard that, it does make a sort of sense…  but boy that never would have crossed my mind.

My first instinct is to say that in no way will television really do that – after all, I’d take a good book almost any day over TV.  To add proof to this, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 books in the past couple of months, as opposed to spending at most an hour or two a week watching TV…  we’ve really been weaning ourselves from TV addiction, and it’s quite the relief.  It’s pretty sad how easy it is to start scheduling your week around the shows you “must” watch.   In all honesty, we do still watch movies and series, but we only watch DVDs borrowed from the library and we watch them on our terms – when we have the time.  I didn’t include that in that one to two hours a week I mentioned earlier – but I’d claim that most TV watching is of the random “flipping-channels-just-to-see-what’s-on” variety, and that’s not us.

Anyhow, while I am in no way in danger of forsaking books for TV, it occurs to me that many of my high school students seem to already be there.  One, almost proudly, informed me the other day that he hadn’t read a book in something like three years.  I have students that get frustrated with me because I won’t put their calculator away for them – they can’t be bothered to get up and walk 15 feet to the drawer.  So there’s a piece of me that sees that kids are increasingly inclined to take the quick and easy TV over the much deeper, fulfilling, and yet time-requisite, world of books.

While thinking about what I’d put in this blog entry, I was reminded of what Pete wrote a short time ago in his article Non Sequitur – how on the back of Brenna’s book was the statement “Learn to read.  Watch TV.”  I’ve got to admit, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I try to be slow to see the world as going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket, but there does seem to be some sort of problem with younger generations and commitment to things that matter – whether those things be related to education, to family, to the community, or even to self-improvement.  Still, I don’t want to be too pessimistic here – I’m sure some of this is the product of my environment, teaching the already-disadvantaged students of downtown Grand Rapids.

Alas, as happens too often, it seems like I’m beginning to get on another education rant…  so I’ll cut this off right here.  Suffice it to say that I highly recommend Bradbury’s book, recommend reading in all shapes and forms, and leave you with the statement that much of what is wrong with society today is due to the fact that many “are more concerned with their rights than with their responsibilities.”


2 Responses to “(Bradbury) – (Boob-tube) = (Books)”

  1. Wow–that is interesting–I think the standard high school lit class interpretation is governmental, but it’s been a long time. I do remember reading some stats at one time about the decreased average time reading by kids going down. I agree with your rant. The biggest loss is going to be kids’ ability to sustain complex thoughts and arguments, because that’s what you have to do to read good writing. They want the M&M size thought.

  2. Mmmmmm. M&Ms.

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