No Child Left Informed
So I was watching Ben 10 this morning (yes I watch childrens' television, in fact the only reason we have Sky is because my wife and I are enormous fans of animated media, live with it), and something really irked me. Part of what I see as a general malaise in childrens' television. Not all childrens' television of course, just some of it.
It is the over-dumbing down. Making nonsense when sense was so easy to achieve.
Let me explain the context of my ire. The episode in question is called "Kraken", in it a giant creature in a lake is attacking people. They discover that the creature is only trying to protect its children (eggs) and that the apparent eco-friendly mariners are stealing the eggs. At one point the leader of the 'Bad Guys' states:
"be careful with those eggs as that will be an expensive omelette"
But, of course, it won't. Fish eggs don't make omelettes in any way. Fish eggs make caviar. Now I can understand them wanting to make the joke, but they could have said "that would make the world's most expensive caviar." Same joke, only now it is also relative to the real world.
I know this is just a cartoon, I know it doesn't matter in the small scale. But it is more proof that we make things dumb, we make them cheap, and we have people thinking that fact. There are some who will never question what the TV tells them unless they don't understand it.
So if we say caviar and the kid doesn't get the joke a good number of them will either look up the information or ask, and so stimulate learning. There are always some who will not, and some have stated that "no child should be left behind", but the truth of the matter is that sometimes you have no choice. The child might not have the aspiration or the ability to keep up, does that mean we have to have a world populated by the lowest common denominator?
When I was young I loved to watch Doctor Who. In those days they made up about as much science-babble as the modern Who, but one thing they also did was use language that was rich. One of my earliest memories of looking in a dictionary was after watching an episode of the Key to Time, A Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor) story, in which a Sontaran arrives and boldly states:
"I am a member of the Sontaran Special Spacial Service"
To which the Doctor quips:
"Isn't that carrying alliteration too far?"
I had to look up the word alliteration, as I had no idea what it meant, it of course is the repeated first sound of a word, so we had SSSS. Again, I didn't quite get it, so asking my parents resulted in an explanation of who the SS were and how this joke makes a reference to that and the nature of the Sontaran's, a joke on the repeated sound being over the top and now I have some knowledge that stays lodged in my brain because I had to LEARN it.
The best way of learning, to my understanding, is discovery. You do this yourself. You are prompted to do it by things that don't make sense or you don't understand.
So there is great need, in all that we do, not to 'dumb down' but to 'raise up'