?This generation has grown up without learning concentration- you don?t develop concentration by switching television channels. What can teachers do but pander to the rapid alteration of mood and attention among their students?? This view, from the head of an academic committee on literacy, blames the television for the unacceptably high illiteracy rates in the United States today. It is certainly true that television is one of the culprits that keep people from reading and writing. But it does so by means of something worse than merely shortening the viewer?s attention span. Television?s greater violence lies not in its successive scenes of actual violence, harmful as these may be, but in its overreliance on the visual as a means of communication.
Unless the television is used like the stage set in a good play- as a background for language and a foreground for acting- it weakens the image-making, interpretive capacity of the mind. ?A picture is worth a thousand word? only if it is a great picture, one capable of condensing and representing a life of emotion. As much of television uses it, however, the visual is a barren desert. And yet, instead of resisting this technology, schools have welcomed the television into the classroom, contributing to the simplification of language and the implicitly discouraging