Redefining School – Reject Mass Media

Something has been bothering me for a very long time, I just haven’t been sure how to put it into words. Today, as I flicked through the TV channels, I think I may have figured it out.

No matter how much of an ethical position we may take in bringing up young people, both in families and in our schools, all is undone the moment they engage with mass media. Turn on the TV and we are fed a million messages that undermine all teaching.

In this posting, I will focus on violence.

Violence is glorified and war the playground of muscle-bound-heroes-in-the-making. Explosions, bombs, machine-gun fire, collateral damage, drones… you name it, Hollywood has glorified it, sanitised it and told us “it’s OK… this is normal, accept it, worship it.” Sure, a few mavericks have managed to squeeze some anti-war sentiments past the censors, who undeniably act in the interest of warmongers, but war is generally packaged, gift-wrapped and presented to us as something to revel in, not question. Either Hollywood is forced to take responsibility for the messages it transmits, or we have to take matters in to our own hands, turn our backs on it and make the production of war films less lucrative.

The violence doesn’t just remain in the realm of war, oh no, we have our violence tailored both to suit and feed our daily fears. The vast majority of TV series are about murder. In fact, if you fancied a bit of a career change and decided to become a murderer – which many people do, TV is a perpetual “how-to” guide that comes full of helpful advice and tricks of the trade. To go one step further, CSI and other similar shows, provide in-depth information about how you can avoid being detected.

Potential terrorists can also seek inspiration from TV shows and movies, with the creators of these forms of media constantly ahead of the game and coming up with all sorts of wonderful ways that you can be a terrorist. If you’re a terrorist that, sadly, lacks ideas and needs a bit of inspiration so you can raise your game, simply turn on the TV or go and watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster, and there you go… a wonderful menu of horrific acts to choose from. Take the ending of shite “cult” movie Fight Club, for example, and tell me its not rather similar to 9/11 – which happened two years later. I wonder how many people who lost loved ones in New York still think that movie was cool? Never mind those who’ve pointlessly had their faces punched in by shirtless morons trying to emulate Brad Pitt after seven pints of lager.

Even escapist, fantasy, costume dramas like Game of Thrones descend rapidly into the provision of violence-porn which give us all a guilty tingle as we are shocked, disgusted and slightly turned on by another jugular being slit, wet slurping sounds and all. But, its alright, there’s dragons and bare breasts, its not real life… or is it? Tell that toddler who just watched his junkie-father have his throat slit in front of him that it isn’t real and watch his tragic, confused face as the tears drip down his cheeks.

If I was to continue with examples, this would become an extremely long blog post. And, we all know nobody has the time to read those. So, I will end with a few thoughts about how schools might respond to this situation:

  • Completely and explicitly reject mass media. This would not be censorship, as that is more along the lines of pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead, acknowledge its existence and then take a strong stance on it.
  • Make the deconstruction of mass media a key part of education, teaching students to be cynical about its messages – of which the glorification of violence is just one.
  • Make it very clear to parents that there will be little tolerance of these stances being undermined at home. Parents of the little thugs, for example, brought up on a media diet of Ben 10 since they could first throw a tantrum about it being turned off, will need to be on board.

Next, it may be time to look at the News.



  1. kellijelli

    Funny you should write this. I was watching The Voice with the kids and every ad for other shows that came on involved violence of one kind or another. I was thinking of sitting down one night and take a photo every time a violent image came on the screen in that hour block…….maybe we should.

    • sherrattsam

      I know, you can’t walk away from the damn thing and trust that there won’t be a trailer for some murder show involving decapitated heads or someone having their face blown off.

  2. hjoubert

    We have normal used violence to the point where viewers rarely even react.
    What I don’t understand is the following contradiction: the Australian government is currently running a series of ads aimed at preventing violence against women by stopping it at the start through building awareness of the messages we give condone young boys treating girls inappropriately YET the next ad or the program following the anti violence ad sensationalises violence against women! The message then becomes violence against women is okay! And then there are the hideous levels of violence and war in online games that kids play for hours every week. Anti violence messages are undermined so frequently it’s depressing!

    • sherrattsam

      There is literally no point launching campaigns or educating with one message when all the other messages – both explicit and subliminal – are telling us all that war, violence and murder are heroic, mysterious, entertaining and even sexy.

  3. Melissa K.

    Another possible solution:
    Glorify and celebrate non-violence. Take time to study the many, many non-violent peoples movements that have occurred, or even better, examples of kids and teens making a difference in their communities, celebrate them as heroes and people to look up to.
    I think as kids, and even as adults, there is a little part of all of us that wants to be a hero, that wants to make a difference, change the world, be looked up to, celebrated and remembered. If all of our examples of heroes are somehow engaged in violence, it’s easy to believe that’s the only way to achieve hero-status.

    • sherrattsam

      Yes, this could be a good approach. But are schools strong enough to take such a positive stance with fear of being “value-driven” or “value-laden”?

  4. concentricthinking

    Personally, I don;t even watch the news. Everything is breaking news. Everything is sad or bad news. And like robots we get sucked into that trap. The news is like setting snares in a forest. The news is designed to trap us, and sadly we don’t recognize that we get so easily caught in it. The news corporations know this. The news is there to pollute and contaminate, put the fear of GOD into people. Whatever your GOD or non-GOD is. The answer…… an without electricity, just people. Sounds extreme, just take yourself there for a moment though.

  5. Simone

    We are not perfecting the art of parenting by any means but one consistent is that our tv is never on before school or after school Monday – Friday. Saturday/Sunday morning cartoons via Netflix which are ad-free and the occasional Fri/Sat night family movie & footy is the extent of it. We never watch the news or listen to radio news. What has happened though is a mismatch of ‘cultural’ knowledge when our boy plays with his friends. He often doesn’t know what shows they are talking about (like The Voice, Family Feud etc) because our telly is never on. We don’t want him to feel like the odd one out and we don’t pretend it doesn’t exist – we just make other choices.

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