News in Kids Lives

News, it's something that I can remember watching with my parents as a kid. There was one TV in the house and if you wanted to watch it you had to watch what you parents wanted, including the news.

As an expat my news viewing habits are continually in flux depending on the country we live in and our ability to access an English news channel. Turning on the TV and having a wide range of news options is a thing of the past for many expats who live in a country in which they don't speak the language. In Hungary its been a struggle to find a reliable online news source, nevermind a channel on television. Whereas in China we were forever plagued by the Chinese authorities censoring Hong Kong news stations by randomly throwing up a picture of a mountain. CNN or BBC are great resources, but being very global in nature it is sometimes challenging to follow local events in your host city or country.

With a movement towards everyone in the house having their own devices, it means families are no longer viewing news together. And I have found that this has had a large and undesirable impact on students. Our students are no longer familiar with local and global current events. The loss of family viewing means our students are becoming less globally minded. How many people remember being told to eat up because we needed to think of the children starving in Ethopia? Or we would be given away to an orphanage in Romania if we didn't behave? As a child growing up in the 80's these were culturally relevant references my family threw around and I understood since we had viewed the news together.

Currently Hungary has been at the epicenter of the migrant struggle and local events have been all over the news, including global news stations like CNN and BBC. I made the assumption that when I read to Grade 5 students 'The Island' by Armin Greder that they would immediately make the connection to the migrant crisis here. The story revolves around a community's fear over this unwanted stranger that has arrived on their shores. Reluctantly, the community allows him to stay but their treatment of the stranger lacks dignity and lacks empathy. In the end (spoiler), the community decide to build a wall to keep strangers out.

None of my students made the connection, none. And when this type of thing happens to a teacher you start to wonder what the source of the problem is. Both the classroom teachers and I were surprised by the lack of connection. Why did our students who live in Hungary and have heard about the troubles here not make the connection?

The trouble was our assumption that they knew about the migrant situation. They didn't. Why?

Viewing, like reading is an important transdiscplinary skill. According to the IB viewing involves 'interpeting and analysing visuals and multimedia; understanding the ways in which images and langauge interact to convey ideas; values and beliefs; making informed choices about personal viewing experiences'. Our students didn't know about the migrant situation because they haven't viewed it. They hadn't sat down and watched the news with their families. They haven't read it online in newspapers.

Like many things in our world our love of technology has come at price, and now it's our children's general knowledge of the current events and the world. Our children cannot be global citizens if they don't know what is happening in our world. It can't only be done as a 'current events' unit in school. Families need to consider viewing as important as reading. It takes very little time and it should be enjoyed, but it's yet another thing where technology has unnecessarily complicated our lives.

It's time to get turn that tv on, and view the news together. It will help your child to be an informed global citizen!


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