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Friday, July 6, 2012

Restriction as Reflections of Culture

My eldest son has homework over the summer. Naturally, he’s spent the month of June in ardent protest against this fact. Every weekday, he has an assignment, and of all of them, the most interesting to me is, “Spend the entire day without TV or videogames. How do you spend your day?”

First of all, how many adults could do that, especially if we tacked on computers? It would certainly be difficult for me. If I don’t check email a couple times a day, I worry I’m missing something important. If I don’t write more days than not, which I usually do on the computer, I start getting edgy and grumpy.

Still, TV and video or computer games make up a good part of most kids’ lives, at least the ones I know. It says a lot that more than one day on my son’s sheet includes this assignment. I think it was rare in my childhood when someone might have even suggested such an assignment. My summers usually consisted of swimming, playing pretend, and reading. Back then, an assignment that suggested not reading would have better fit my proclivities, though not my preferences.

In any case, it marks an interesting aspect of our society. Every generation has such contentious issues. I recall reading once that in medieval times, priests struggled to keep villagers from partying in the graveyards. It’s as reflective of culture what we forbid or restrict as what we encourage. In fact, it might even be more illuminating.

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