Monday, January 05, 2015

Platitudes are only skin deep

I overdosed on Disney Channel over the holidays, because of course children control the remote. It sounds like it's teaching kids wholesome lessons, but if you pay attention, you'll realize it's not. It just repeats meaningless platitudes with no depth, and sometimes gets the platitudes wrong.

For example, it had a segment on the importance of STEAM education. This sounds a lot like "STEM", which stands for "science, technology, engineering, and math". Many of us believe in interesting kids in STEM. It's good for them, because they'll earn twice that of other college graduates. It's good for society, because there aren't enough technical graduates coming out of college to maintain our technology-based society. It's also particularly important for girls, because we still have legacy sexism that discourages girls from pursuing technical careers.

But Disney adds an 'A' in the middle, making STEM into STEAM. The 'A' stands for "Arts", meaning the entire spectrum of Liberal Arts. This is nonsense, because at this point, you've now included pretty much all education. The phrase "STEAM education" is redundant, conveying nothing more than simply "education".

What's really going on is that they attack the very idea they pretend to promote. Proponents of STEM claim those things are better than Arts, and Disney slyly says the opposite, without parents noticing.

Another example of this is a show featuring the school's debate team. They say that debate is important in order to understand all sides of an issue. But the debate topic they have is "beauty is only skin deep", and both "sides" of the debate agree with the proposition.

This is garbage. Two sides to a debate means two opposing sides. It's the very basis of enlightenment, the proposition that reasonable people can disagree. It means that if you are Protestant, that while you disagree with Catholics, you accept the fact that they are reasonable people, and not devil worshippers who eat babies. In real school debate, you are forced to debate both sides -- you can't choose which side you want to debate. This means debate isn't about your opinion, but your ability to cite support for every claim you make.

What Disney implicitly teaches kids is that there is only one side to a debate, the correct side, and that anybody who disagrees is unreasonable.

The problem with Disney is ultimately is that the writers are stupid. They aren't deep thinkers, they don't really understand the platitudes they want to teach children, so they end up teaching children the wrong thing.


Scotty said...

Meh. I like the A in STEAM. Arts mixed into engineering is pretty awesome. Think da Vinci.

Unknown said...

Thank You