Wednesday, September 26, 2007

While we're on the topic...

Have you seen the new reality show called Kid Nation? It started last week and I only caught the first 30 minutes of it because Tivo had to record something else halfway through. Basically, they took 40 kids between the ages of 8 and 15, gave them food and cleaning supplies and dropped them into this ghost town in the desert.

Now at first, this idea really appealed to me to see how the kids interacted with each other. Did they form groups, who did they accept as leaders (the old or the wise?), how did they learn to survive (trial and error or relying on those with wisdom in those areas already), etc.

But, as with almost all kid activities, the adults ruined it. They left the kids an instruction book. Told them to divide up into teams. Told each team what they were in charge of. Chose leaders for the teams...and get this, they're giving out rewards to the 'model citizen'. I'm not nearly as interested in it now...but Matthew seems to be so we'll watch it until he loses interest.

Do adults think so little of kids that they just had to give them an instruction book on how to cook mac and cheese? And if a 15 yr old can't do some simple calculations on how to prepare mac and cheese for a group of 40 instead of for one (himself), mass American education has a lot more issues than I can name. But I saw the 10 yr old girls stepping up, trying to follow a recipe left behind for them. And I saw the 15 yr old boys being bored and trying to not 'play by the rules' - the first night after they picked "teams", the oldest boys are out defacing the other teams signs. This is the same 15 yr old who seemed, on the first day, to really put some heart into it and step up and help out the younger ones. I wonder what made him change his tune? Did he first have the impression that he was one of the oldest and they'd all be looking to him for wisdom and leadership? Did he realize that, once again, he really wasn't in that lucrative position in the least when the adults stepped in with their 'helpful hints'? I don't know. But my inner psychologist would love to talk to him for a while about it. ;)

Did you catch the show? What did you think? Am I totally nuts? :)


Jean 2 said...

Hmmmmm...I have never seen the show but now I am curious. I would have probably been one of the adults to take charge and tell them what they need to do. lol
I CAN'T HELP IT! I am a control freak and that is what makes us all so special with God-different personalities! I have to go with that.

Beverly said...

I did not watch the show, but I'm interested in your observations. We used to watch "The Amazing Race" with the kids. We'd point out how the people who didn't argue, the people who supported each other and were nice, were the ones who usually ended up winning the tasks. The show had nice views of the world, and it had something to teach about traveling, too.
However, the show seemed to change after we watched a few seasons. Now it seems they are going out of the way to pick people who will fight, and it's more than my husband and I can take.
From what you describe, I think the "Kid Nation" producers did give them too much help. I think in more primitive, smaller societies, there isn't as much division of labor as what we experience in most of America. So if the first thing the show did was divide the kids into teams, that doesn't seem to be helping. They should have just provided the kids with enough food that doesn't require cooking, barrels of apples and such. We don't want to see them literally starving.