[lit-ideas] Re: media violence

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 13:52:54 -0400

Yes, of course, computation and reading skills are and should be 
required, although even those often don't take.  We get even fewer 
takers for the constitution and history.   And geography might as well 
not be offered at all for all the takers there.  (I'm exaggerating -- 
for effect -- at least I hope so...)    I suppose I was imagining a 
person mature enough and basically educated enough to make choices about 
future education and thus used Shakespeare as an example.  (Thinking of 
Summerhill, perhaps)  But, moving along the school curriculum, the 
presentation of history, for instance, might be more problematic (than 
the computation).  Whose history is the most 'true'?  I've never lived 
in the South, but I suspect that the history of the civil war looks 
different there than it did in Chicago.  I know for a fact that the 
Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 looked different in the Canadian 
history I used to teach than it did in my Chicago school books.   If we 
placed computation and violence on a continuum for the sake of 
comparison, surely we would place history some where between them.   But 
where, how close to either end, depends on a variety of things.  If 
we're talking about grade three social studies, then maybe it could be 
right up alongside the arithmetic.  But if we're talking about 
university level history, then maybe we'd have to slide it along towards 
violence.  And notice that at that point we no longer require it, we 
offer it. 

To answer your question about what the difference is between algebra and 
violence, I would say the most obvious difference is that one arouses 
emotions and the other doesn't.   One has issues of morality attached to 
it, while the other doesn't.   One pushes us to take sides and the other 
doesn't.  (This also applies to the difference between the grade three 
and the university level history.)   Perhaps we're letting ourselves off 
the hook as much as our children with our censorship.  Eventually, we 
comfort ourselves, they'll be old enough to figure it out for themselves 
and we won't have revealed how little we understand.
answering only small parts of the question...

John Wager wrote:

>Ursula Stange wrote:
>>. . . . I suppose I'd like to say that all 
>>experiences should be there for the taking, but hardly any experiences 
>>should be foisted on people.   (The few people who learn to love 
>>Shakespeare when forcefed in high school are swamped everywhere by those 
>>who learn to hate him).  Eventually we're all adults and make these 
>>decisions for ourselves, taking into account our experience with our own 
>>squeamishness etc.  
>But we DO force people to learn to add and subtract, no matter HOW much 
>they hate it, because we think that having fellow citizens who can do 
>this is something that's good for ALL of us.  We REQUIRE students to 
>learn about the constitution and history because we need them to be able 
>to make intelligent political decisions.  The problem I have here is I 
>don't know where to put violence like this.  Is it something that we 
>should REQUIRE students to deal wtih because "real" violence is NOT 
>Hollywood violence?  Do we want students to be aware of the difference? 
>If so, can we require students to deal with it REGARDLESS of their 
>squeamishness?  What makes violence different than algebra?
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