Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Boy With Twelve Fingers

Channel 5 documentary, anyone? Ooh, yes please, I love them, though I'm slightly ashamed of my addiction. They're always called something like The Boy with Twelve Fingers.

They always tell you everything lots of times, and they usually have titles like The Boy with Twelve Fingers.

The narrator always repeats everything several times, especially the title. "Parents Kevin and Michelle are taking young Shane, the boy with twelve fingers, to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool to meet finger specialist Alvin Greenberg from Philadelphia. Professor Greenberg is going to count Shane's fingers to see if there really are twelve."

I love these documentaries, which are generally shown on Channel 5. They are made for people with the attention span of a gnat, and are therefore great for accompanying tasks such as ironing.

"And it's good news for Kevin and Michelle, parents of Shane, the boy with twelve fingers. Professor Alvin Greenberg from Philadelphia has counted his fingers and there really are twelve of them. Kevin and Michelle, Shane's parents, have defied all the experts and were right all along."

Yesterday there was an article in The Times which suggested that these kinds of programmes, which repeat everything lots of times and are fast-paced for short attention spans, are stopping our nation's youth from being able to concentrate.

Our nation's youth are no longer able to concentrate, apparently, because of television programmes which are made for short attention spans. They don't want to learn unless it's interesting.

Which is all very well up to a point - - yes, when I was a teacher I did try to make my lessons interesting.

But some things that are good to know just aren't interesting. Times tables, for example. Dull as hell but my ability, dating from the eleven-plus days, to go seven eights? Fifty-six! has been useful all my life.

And tucked away in the article was the terrifying phrase "The Government intends to raise the school-leaving age to eighteen by 2013."

WHAT? Whole great herds of disaffected teenagers with two-second attention spans stuck at school for two more years? Do you think they're going to provide enough resources to give an education which will really seem relevant to them? - - No, I don't either.

What is the educational theory behind this impressive idea?

Is it:

a) Teachers are cheaper than policemen


b) It keeps them out of the dole queues


c) Both, really.

Right, I've done now. I'm off to watch The Woman With Three Wombs.


Blogger Kim said...

I quite like those kind of shows, but now I am really starting to think they are nothing more than freak shows
it seems very much like 'lets see if we can find someone with some kind of hideous disfigurment and put them all over TV and then repeat there disfigurment over and over again, and make sure

12:20 am  
Blogger Debby said...

I just watched a guy with a tree growing in his lung on Youtube.....does that count???

3:43 am  
Anonymous ruth said...

Sorry I was going to leave a comment but I forgot what your post was about

8:40 am  
Blogger Jennyta said...

I would also say the literacy hour contributed greatly to producing a generation of children who can't concentrate on one thing for more that a few minutes. All those lessons which focused on excerpts rather than whole books!

10:12 am  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

What about that poor Indonesian "tree man" whose warts had grown into massive twisted roots? Then there were those American Siamese twins with heads joined together and there was that woman from Leeds who looked like a trout...oops sorry! I didn't mean to mention the last one.

1:02 am  
Anonymous Jay said...

"Is it: a) Teachers are cheaper than policemen"

Hahahahaa!! I think that's it! LOL!

Seriously, I think the worst thing for lowering the attention span of kids is the tendency to throw everything at a programme. Remember the days of nice, quiet David Attenborough type documentaries where you heard nothing but the narrator's voice? Gone. There is now always crappy music in the background. Intrusive, crappy music. And visual displays, animations, repetition, graphs, display charts, CG effects, you name it, they throw it in.

After a while, kids expect it, so when there's nothing but the information, their minds are unhinged and they can't concentrate.

Raise the school leaving age to 18? Are they insane?

'Hey, school doesn't seem to be working too well these days. I know! Let's force the kids to stay there longer - that'll work!!'

9:34 am  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

School wasn't working very well so first they encouraged people to start it earlier (15 hours a week from age 3) and then they tried to force people to stay there longer.

Jiminy crickets.

7:50 pm  

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