Final Chapter of Reading Rainbow
Well, one of my all-time favorite shows from my childhood is ending after 26 years. I wanted to discuss for a minute about the reason behind why the show is going off-air.
The article states:
Research has directed programming toward phonics and reading fundamentals as the front line of the literacy fight. Reading Rainbow occupied a more luxurious space — the show operated on the assumption that kids already had basic reading skills and instead focused on fostering a love of books.
Throughout the article they explain that television programming is now focusing on teaching kids how to read and not worrying about boosting their interest. They assume that is secondary to learning how to read in the first place, therefore making Reading Rainbow a luxury instead of a necessity. Hello! TV programming is all a luxury and none of it is a necessity. Some might argue that televised news is a necessity (if you don’t read the paper, I guess) when it comes to first-hand alerts and such. But if we’re talking about programming for kids…in my mind, it’s all a luxury.
I don’t believe for a minute that kids who fall into the illiteracy bracket will somehow learn how to read–no matter how many educational TV programs are funded and put up on the telly. Yeah, I know kids can learn to count to 10 in Spanish from Dora the Explorer, but that doesn’t teach them to speak Spanish. That teaches them a parlor trick. The same goes for learning ABC’s from Sesame Street or even putting to syllables together to make a word. That doesn’t teach them to read with comprehension. And by the way, I would LOVE it if someone produced some research in this area where it’s proven unequivocally effective–I’m not joking, because I’m only speaking from my personal experience and not as someone who’s researched extensively.
On the other hand…if you’re flipping through kids shows and not wanting to burn brain cells on “fluff” shows like Care Bears or Teletubbies, then why not turn kids on to a show like Reading Rainbow, which at least presents the educational world in a fun and adventurous light? If you can’t actually teach kids to read with TV programming (and I’m not talking about DVD’s for homeschooling and tools like that) then why not at least give them the “luxury” of watching shows that encourage fun in science, math, reading, art and music in general? If someone can’t read, then perhaps their interest will be sparked to learn (from a teacher or teaching material) if they see other kids having adventures in reading? Perhaps their boredom and poor grades in science class can be boosted by Bill Nye the Science Guy or some similar education show?
One of my favorite kids shows on right now is Little Einsteins. To me, this show is to my kids what Reading Rainbow was to me. Not with literature, obviously, but with music and art. Little Einsteins uses genuine pieces of art, music, musical instruments and global locations to create a fun educational TV show. It’s a great mix of educational facts and learning mixed with adventure and fun characters. I’m sure there are more shows like that out there that you readers know of (I’d love to hear about them) but the fact is, we hardly watch TV at all! I’m not being self-righteous about it 🙂 The fact is, we just don’t have time in the day. I’m not someone who feels like the TV is pure evil–like any tool, a television can be used for good if we desire. But let’s not kid ourselves that the TV replaces either schooling, homeschooling or private tutoring when we’re talking about education.
What do you think?
Then again, I could just be sour that my favorite kids show is going off-air 🙂