Media Column

May 16, 1990 4 min read

Most teachers who use television in the classroom show programs for enrichment rather than to reinforce lessons or introduce new concepts, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Children’s Television Workshop.

The research organization Audits and Surveys asked 736 elementary-school teachers about their classroom use of television programs such as the Public Broadcasting Service’s “3-2-1 Contact” and “Square One TV.”

Asked which programs they had shown in class recently, teachers most often cited the PBS series “Reading Rainbow.” Sixteen percent of respondents named that program.

Nearly all of the schools surveyed (98 percent) owned at least one videocassette recorder, and the average school owned four.

Teachers were much more likely to tape shows off the air or borrow tapes from other teachers than to use materials purchased or rented from stores or catalogues, the survey showed.

A summary of the survey, “A Study of the Role of Educational Television in Elementary Schools,” is available from the school-services division of the ctw, One Lincoln Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10023; telephone: (212) 595-3456.

Nike Inc. has garnered critical acclaim for its TV commercials and marketing campaign built around the phrase, “Just Do It.”

Last month, the Oregon-based shoe manufacturer announced plans to devote a portion of its annual advertising budget to messages that will promote education, perhaps along the lines of “Just Stay in School.”

“We think we are pretty good at communicating to kids,” said Liz Dolan, a spokesman for the company. “Our goal is to do entertaining ads that show that staying in school is the key to success.”

A number of athletic stars who endorse Nike shoes will participate in the education-related ads, she said, including the professional basketball players David Robinson and Michael Jordan and the pro baseball and football player Bo Jackson.

Because free public-service announcements often are shunted by TV networks and stations to late-night time slots, Nike will pay to run the education ads on programs it sponsors, such as sporting events. The firm plans to spend approximately $5 million in the coming year on the ads, Ms. Dolan said.

The Public Broadcasting Service’s “Frontline” documentary program next month will examine the role of teachers in the lives of their children by focusing on classroom teachers in the Shakopee, Minn., school system.

The hourlong episode, scheduled to air June 12 at 9 P.M., Eastern time, on PBS, highlights three elementary-school teachers in the community of 12,000 people near Minneapolis.

“Frontline” is anchored by Judy Woodruff.

Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles mathematics teacher whose success in motivating inner-city students was chronicled in the movie “Stand and Deliver,” will be the host for a new PBS instructional-TV series available in the fall.

“Futures,” a 12-part series of 15-minute program segments, will be targeted to junior- and senior-high-school students.

The program will demonstrate real-world applications of math, focusing on such careers as agriculture, aviation, computers, and engineering in which math skills are essential.

The series is being produced by the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education and FASE Productions of Los Angeles.

The series will be available in the fall for lease by schools and for instructional broadcast use from the PBS Elementary/Secondary Service. For more information, school officials may contact the learning-services director at their local PBS affiliates or Francis Thompson, associate director of marketing, PBS Elementary/Secondary Service, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, Va., 22314; telephone: (703) 739-5402.

The advocacy group Action for Children’s Television has published a booklet designed to help television programmers and educators develop more book-based programming.

“TV, Books, & Children” discusses past and current TV programs, films, and home videos that dramatize children’s stories or engage young people with books.

The booklet commends PBS for its record of airing literature-based programs, and it calls on commercial broadcasters to “turn to the bookshelf instead of the toy shelf” in seeking inspiration for children’s programs.

Copies of the booklet are available for $5 each from Action for Children’s Television, 20 University Rd., Cambridge, Mass. 02138.

Whittle Communications has consolidated all its school-related media enterprises into a new business unit called the Whittle Educational Network.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company’s new unit includes the controversial “Channel One,” a classroom news program for teenagers, as well as one other television channel, three wall-poster systems, one magazine, and a market-sampling operation.

According to the company, the network reaches some 18 million students at about 22,000 schools.


A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 1990 edition of Education Week as Media Column