Can Children’s Television Encourage Children’s Creativity? Israeli TV Producers’ Discourse

In: Chiselled Horizons: A Multi-Cultural Approach to Visual Literacy

This cultural and social analysis examines the discourse of producers of Israeli children’s television regarding the possibility of stimulating children’s creativity through television programs. Based on interviews with 20 central producers of more than four decades of Israel’s leading channels for children, this qualitative research creates two new sets of discourse categories regarding television stimulating children’s creativity: (a) The nature of programs that the producers believe may stimulate children’s creativity; (b) Skills that the producers believe children may acquire from these kinds of programs, and how the programs may help build their viewers’ creativity. Looking back on 40 years of Israeli children’s television, we see that contrary to the discourse of the ‘Single-Channel Age’ (1966-1989), when there was ideological identification between the producers and the educational establishment’s views on children’s creativity, producers in the ‘Multi-TV Age’ (2000-2010) found themselves in conflict between their protective perception of childhood and their commercial need to see children as consumers. The shift in the producers’ habitus concerning the importance of encouraging creativity in children within the field of popular culture uncovers a complex picture in the present reality: On the one hand, a decrease in the producers’ belief that they could actually influence children, and on the other hand, a strong desire to see their work in the cultural field as being meaningful to children. Based on this complex cultural picture, a third category has been added to round out the producers’ discourse: Why does children’s television today not try harder to encourage children’s creativity?