it seems that students are becoming more impervious to direction
it seems that military recruits enjoy the glory of the uniform but
lack the commitment and the character to abide by their loyalty
oath; who see a dishonorable discharge as a way to quit, rather
than a point of shame;
it seems that inexperienced, often poorly-trained, employees arrive
‘knowing it all,’ wanting it all, and lacking the concept of ‘working
one’s way up’ in a career; If it seems that younger workers consider
their jobs low priority, impetuously quitting, or missing scheduled
days, to seek personal satisfaction;
might be interested in the following theory.
years ago I attended a stunning in-service, during which a speaker
presented a plausible explanation for these cultural problems that
are now unraveling the fabric of society. The speaker’s ideas were
so impressive that they have served as words of warning, and have
assisted me in better understanding, sometimes even in coping with,
many of the unwelcome changes in America.
gentleman theorized that the population of America could be divided
into two groups: Print People and TV People. He defined ‘Print People’
as those who were born before 1957 and grew up gaining most of their
information and knowledge from books and printed materials. ‘TV
People’ were defined as those who were born after that point in
time, and who grow up getting most of their knowledge from the television.
assured us that one certainly could find Print People born after
the cutoff date — people who had been born into very strong Print
Families where the habits of turning to books, rather than to television,
were cultivated. He was confident, however, that 1957 was the key
division for his observations and studies.
summarized his conclusions:
People do what they are told to do, almost all the time.
People do what they are told to do, less than half the time.”
thought that if this theory were indeed true, it might explain some
of the chaos creeping into academic settings. In my mind I began
sorting though children and adults I knew, evaluating them against
that date in time, and those possible reactions to authority. As
I saw one positive match after another, I pondered the eventual
effect on the culture-at-large, in the years to come.
asked if we were noticing more strife between people — in schools,
jobs, businesses, stores, and social interactions. Most of us nodded
in agreement. The speaker explained that we were moving into a time
frame where Print People (who do what they are told to do almost
all the time) were trying to supervise TV People (who only
do as they are told less than half of the time.) I gave an audible
gasp — of shock, horror, fear — as the picture of an increasingly
chaotic, unruly, undisciplined, egotistical, hedonistic, future
flashed through my mind.
speaker next widened the window through which we could glimpse the
future: “If you think that things are beginning to go badly now,
consider this…as more and more Print People retire, they will be
replaced by more and more TV People. We will eventually arrive at
a point in time when the world will be run by TV People supervising
TV People, and then…”
hardly heard his projections, for the picture of — those who
only do as they are told less than half the time, supervising
more of those who only do as they are told less than half the
time, was enough to finalize my fear and imprint that day, forever,
in my memory.
in-service was presented in the very early 80’s — maybe 1982. Consider
how many Print People have retired in these last twenty years, to
be replaced by TV People. Consider how many Print People teachers
are currently retiring in droves, and consider all of those who
are biding their time, awaiting the earliest dates for filing retirement
the schools; the industries; the businesses; the military — are
having difficulties managing students and personnel now, while they
still have older staff on duty who attempt to organize and control
the increasing chaos, where will the culture and the economy go
when most of the Print People are gone?
if second and third generations of TV People prove to be progressively
more unruly — maybe they ‘do as they are told less than one-third
of the time;’ or even ‘less than one-fourth of the time?’ I feel
sure that we are witnessing a continuing downward spiral in the
quality and effectiveness of discipline and self-discipline, in
all facets of life. Consider road rage, child abuse, spousal abuse,
divorce rates, abortion, school misbehavior, academic decline, welfare
rolls…the list is seemingly without end.
I taught under a young female assistant principal who proved this
very theory. In the beginning, I would notice unacceptable behaviors
in the halls, and march the offending children to this woman’s office.
I soon learned that my perception of ‘inappropriate behavior’ was
far different than the principal’s perception of behavior that called
for discipline. Usually these visits ended with the student returning
to class unscathed, reassured that the rules were not meant for
them; the principal believing that I was some strange person with
strange expectations — “I don’t see that they did anything so wrong…”
and with me convinced that hall duty is a daily proving ground for
this theory of differing reactions to authority — “Print People
versus TV People.”
hear more and more about the younger generations and their determination
to do exactly as they wish, precisely when they want, in any manner
they choose. Young people have told me that they quit their jobs
because they were offended — the bosses were always trying to tell
them what to do!
day, in frustration, I stepped in front of a hall-roaming TV Person
who was ignoring my questions, and I stated, “Notice! I am not a
TV, and you do not have a remote control! You may not like my ‘channel’
but it is the one you get to watch at this moment!” I might have
saved my energy. He missed the point, looked at me as though I had
lost my mind, and passed around me to continue his out-of-class
is not surprising that TV People have failed to develop courtesy
or commitment; loyalty to duties and responsibilities. They have
been raised with remote controls and game pads in their hands. These
individuals — TV People with high self-esteem based on empty achievements
— rather than being taught wisdom and common sense, have been given
the means to control their world at will; on a whim; at the push
of a button. They feel no compulsion to do anything a mere Print
Person, or even another TV Person, tells them to do. Click. Double-click.
Change the channel. Tune out. Turn up the volume. Put on the headphones.
People, even second and later generations of TV People, hold our
destinies in their impetuous, often arrogant, self-centered hands.
Consider the chaotic conditions developing in so many parts of the
society. Next picture our country with all the Print People retired
and all TV People at the controls. That point is quickly approaching,
and with it a very frightening vision. If this theory is correct,
it will impact our nation and culture in ways from which we may
will be there to lead with wisdom, knowledge and common sense? Who
will direct academics back to the jewels of human history stored
in the millions of volumes of printed matter? Who will teach children
to read and so develop the mental training for using printed materials?
Print People may be the only ones who understand that discipline,
morals, and logical thought, are necessary in order for a sane and
safe society to thrive, and to nurture its communities and individuals.
anyone knows the gentleman who formulated this Print People/TV People
theory, please contact me so that I can give proper recognition
for the thought and study behind the concept.)
Schrock Taylor [send
her mail] lives in northern-lower
Michigan, where she is a special education teacher (in Room 18),
a free-lance writer, and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where
real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.