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Who shapes your child -- teacher or TV?

October 26, 2004 16:03 IST

Were he alive today, Dronacharya would have been an unhappy man. Gen X Arjunas think that not teachers but television is shaping their character.

According to a study conducted by the Centre for Media Studies, one-third of the school students interviewed felt that television played a more important role in their lives than their teachers. In fact, only half of those surveyed acknowledged the importance of teachers as influencing factors.

"The exalted guru-shishya relationship is being undermined in today's world. Teachers are struggling to keep pace with the kind of information students are exposed to," said Poonam Chopra, principal, Indian School.

"Teachers are no longer the role models for students. This is especially true in urban settings where the influence of television is far more. Television has a lasting effect on the growing personality," said psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal.

Indeed, one-fifth of the students interviewed felt that television was a contributing factor to their becoming a "good student."

Unfortunately, parents and teachers seem to be unaware of the kind of power that television wields over impressionable young minds. Most educationists felt the electronic media is overrated as a teaching aid.

"The study found that 70 per cent of students did not watch channels aimed at them and instead watched serials and music or film-based programmes," said P N Vasanti, director, Centre for Media Studies.
                                                                
The pull of the idiot box is so great that it even keeps children from engaging in the healthy practice of outdoor play.

"Television is a double-edged sword but unfortunately, the entertainment part through means of unhealthy internalisation is more dominant. Surrogate violence and vulgarity on television is easily imbibed by adolescents," Nagpal said.

While its benefits can't be denied, the idiot box seems to have displaced teachers from their exalted pedestal. How can teachers regain their lost status? The old adage 'If you can't beat them, join them' comes into play here.

"What's the harm in referring to television serials while teaching? We screen film classics and even have discussions and assignments based on specific television programmes. So much more can be done," Chopra said.

"Though it may seem difficult, television-monitoring should be taken up by schools. Media-appreciation should be
part of the curriculum," she added.

Unfortunately, schools hardly use television as a teaching aid and do not monitor what students watch at home.

"Do not let media take over your role," Vasanti exhorts parents and teachers. "You cannot stop students from watching television but you can certainly monitor what they watch."

It seems the modern-day Dronacharya will have to struggle to regain his place in Arjuna's mind but if he joins forces with the idiot box.