Travels with TV

by S.C. Torrington on February 6, 2008

TV WindmillsI don’t care what any educational study or parents’ reactionary group may say, television with all its faults, is still a rich, thought-provoking tool for parents. Granted, you can’t use it as your one-trick pony, but Morgan has seen an array of images I could never imagine. Talkies enhance text.

Earlier this week we were reading a short narrative from a novel suggesting ways/reasons Stonehenge was built. First of all, M’s not too keen on fiction. Give him just the facts, please. He wanted no part of the whole Harry Potter phenom. And the only reason he enjoyed The Swiss Family Robinson is because it’s chocked full of primitive technologies, nature studies and gunplay. So I knew I’d need to beef up this lit.

We went to our Usborne Encyclopedia of World History for better illustrations, full of cut-aways and little sound bites of info. It basically showed Morgan everything that corny story had told him. The idea of carving the stones at the quarry made perfect sense to him. The use of the wooden sleds led to a conversation about the Egyptian pyramids. Which (don’t tell my son) led back to our lesson on Cultural Diffusion. Monuments like Stonehenge, incidentally, were built in Western Europe hundreds of years before the pyramids. So who taught whom? Space aliens? Another tangent.

The next afternoon, Morgan called me to “Hurry,” into his room. Channel surfing he’d come across a documentary about, you guessed it, Stonehenge. It wasn’t Ancient Mysteries narrated by Mr. Spock, but it was close. Not too dry, with some credible female archeologist tromping around recounting everything we’d read. Then she moved on to theories about the Silbury Hill earth mound near Avebury, Wiltshire actually being a signal tower for synchronized Pagan rituals. Human sacrifices, perhaps? Now Morgan (from the Welsh or Old English, meaning “great and bright,” with all its Arthurian implications) was hooked.

Finally when I asked him if he’d like to visit England, “Maybe,” was his reply. And like I’ve said, for my teenager, that’s as positive of a response as I am gonna get.

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