Monday, April 26, 2010

A radical thought..gaming is OK

OK, I need to blather on about video game playing again. :)

People have been responding to the recent onslaught of news coverage that unschooling has received. This is totally understandable with how slanted the first Good Morning America piece was, but now I have a gripe. And it's actually with some of the unschoolers responses.

Unschoolers are coming back with responses like "we don't just play video games or watch TV". Now I know most people need to hear that type of thing, but I really think that that type of thinking just perpetuates the fear.

What's so bad about playing video games? What's so bad about TV? The fear that is generated from those two activities continues to surprise me. People.. think about it. If your child is engaged, don't you think they're getting something out of it? Even if it's more mundane play, don't you think that sometimes people need to relax or unwind?

My son Alec, 17, has played a lot of video games.. and I do mean a lot. He loved the puzzles, the strategy, the humor, the story lines.. even the history included in the games.. (yes, you can learn history from video games) and you know what? He's a smart guy! Really.. you should talk with him. He carries on intelligent conversations and even knows quite a bit about other things that aren't video game related. But, yes.. he played a lot of video games.

I'm asking people to see that our children, just like ourselves, will do other things when they need to do other things. If they don't, and they continue to play; they might end up following that to a career. Really. What are the options? How about computer programming, management, marketing, game creation/drawing, sales.. the list goes on. If they like to play video games, get them lots of games, let them play different types, let them savor the style, the creativity that is there.. or on the flip side, let them see that they are tired of video games and that they want to do something else.

If we continue to badger them or worry, they will never be able to see if they truly like them or not. It might be a passion and it could turn into a career or it might be something they like and then they'll see it as just that -- a hobby. It won't be viewed as something evil or bad. When parents continue to see gaming in a bad light it can turn gaming into a reactive thing -- Mom/Dad don't like those.. I probably need to check it out! ;) Your child isn't doing it for the joy of it. They're doing it because it's such a taboo activity. You know what I'm talking about.

We've spent a lot of time together playing video games and you know what.. it was a great ride. Was it a waste of time? Nope. Are the kids still playing games? Yes, and no.

Alec, our biggest game player, has recently decided that he wants to go to college and then on to medical school. He isn't playing much right now as he's focused on preparing for that. He also loves, loves, loves playing the drums. Figuring out fancy time signatures and tabs is his passion there.

Abbi has also played lots of video games and watched her fair share of TV but is now focusing on learning French. Just last night she was giggling so much over the fact that you can switch languages on Facebook. She now has her language set to French so she can socialize through Facebook while learning a new language! How cool is that??

Kyra, our youngest, who probably learned to read from World of Warcraft, is now considering canceling her WoW subscription because she just doesn't get on there that much anymore. She'd rather be sewing and creating her own fashions.

I don't want people to think that I'm relieved that our kids are moving on to new things....because I'm not. I am happy and excited, but it's more because they continue to find what makes their hearts sing. If they wanted to keep on playing video games I would have been right there supporting them. It's just another interest and who knows, next year we might be right back at it because.....

there's an expansion for World of Warcraft coming out!


Madeline Rains said...

What a fantastic post! And yes, I can bear witness to how incredibly intelligent and engaged all of your children are. I love hanging out with them. The thing that I so admire about you is that you have always played with them which has validated them, helped you to appreciate the games, allowed you to learn even more about your children... You rule.

Pam said...

Terrific post, Kelli! Getting past the defensiveness of "that's not all they do" to embracing the wide-ranging learning and fun that comes from video games is a big step for people learning about unschooling.

Linda H. said...

For some people (most people in our culture?) video games *are* a waste of time -- because they believe them to be so, because they've been led to believe it is so. You get out of something, often, what you're open to and what you're expecting. And if you don't have *any* preconceptions about the value of something, then the possibilities open wide up.

Here's my little rant about it:

Heather said...

I love this post! Thanks so much. Games, video and otherwise, are such an important tool for learning in today's world. It's unfortunate that so many people pass them off as a waste of time.

Deanne said...

Great post, Kelli! I was thinking the same thing after reading some of the responses. SO WHAT if they play video games all day (or all night)!!!! If the child is happy and fulfilled by what they are doing, why should anyone else be allowed to diminish that?

Video games are awesome. There is so much more to them than most people will allow themselves to see. I kind of feel sorry for the people who cannot see them for the world expanding and joy bringing resource that they are. Those people are really missing out, which is ironic when the same people are concerned about our kids "missing out" on things because they don't go to school. ;P

Thanks for this post! <3

Somedeepmystery said...

Thank you, I really needed to read this today. I've been under attack by the worry monster lately! So silly but it happens now and then.

Stephanie said...

I have seen so much gained from video games including just plain fun, I think games are awesome and my kids have always had access to them.

gail said...

Awesome post, Kelli! And I just love being around all your engaged and fun to talk with.

Amy Bradstreet said...

Exactly. I've never understood the tv and gaming naysayers. I'm convinced that both our unschoolers absolutely love algebra, for instance, in large part because of the skills they gained from playing video games. It's all logic, planning, solving for x, etc.

Rebecca said...

Unschoolers are coming back with responses like "we don't just play video games or watch TV". Now I know most people need to hear that type of thing, but I really think that that type of thinking just perpetuates the fear.

I agree! This is a great point and needs to be said. I don't think we need to be defensive about what our kids do (or don't do). I like to talk about the approach/process, regardless of the pursuit. I figure that if my kid can get immersed in a video game to the point of researching it, talking about it, mastering it, it means he can do that with anything in life he chooses to do.

kat said...

hi kelli! ;D it was so fantastic to meet your family at mary's party. your children are very engaging and articulate, i chatted with each of them. my son and i have been chuckling about how much he is learning on south park. sure he thinks the poopy talk is hilarious, but he is also really interested in the civil war because of one episode, and explained to me what a class action suit is. when playing the wii with my kids and their friends it's amazing to me how hard it is for me to change my hand eye coordination to do well with the game, where the kids switch over easily. makes me wonder about what muscles and such i am not utilizing.

Sara said...

I would rather have my children play games and watch shows all day than sit bored-out-of-their minds in a classroom listening to lectures or doing busywork.

Brandi said...

My friend wrote an article on learning and gaming:

I commented as follows about all my 4yo has learned from playing Lego Star Wars

My son cannot yet write his name without help, but he can use the Wii controllers to play Lego Star Wars. He is just learning to read and do basic math, but he can collect the Lego World money and purchase in-game extras. He hasn’t been taught geography formally yet, but has memorized the layout of the levels and knows which way to go to get what. He can tell you the basic storyline of each level, name all of the dozens of characters he has earned or purchased and describe their attributes, and sets personal goals for each session.

Mother said...

Thank you for this post!!!! My son LOVES to play on his nintendo and he LOVES watching TV. He is in school but I seriously consider taking him out, because it just does not work for him. His teachers and the other parents there always talk about how we need restrictions and rules for videogaming. I have lately worried a lot about it, because on one side I have "society" telling me what to do and what's "right and wrong" (which doesn't make sense to me) and on the other my son who likes playing so much. I believe that when he play his games, he relaxes from a stressed day - so why would I take that away from him? But then I worry because "what if they're right"? I have to trust my heart! So thank you so much for this post - I am not alone after all :)

Mother said...

Thank you so much for this post. I so needed to hear it! My son LOVES playing on his nintendo - it just makes him relax and he learns so much. And for the violence: I belive that living it out through play and gaming, will prevent him from going out and doing it for real - because through the game he learns something about what happens if I do this and this etc. I might be wrong, but my kid is the must pacifistic person I know "in real life". If some one hits him he will not punch back - because he doesn't need to and because he knows the damage it brings being violent.
But teachers and parents I know shake their head telling me to give him restriction only to play for so and so long - well maybe he had a hard day! Maybe he just needs to come to peace through gaming! Why would I want my child to keep being stressed?
Thank you so much for this post- I am not alone after all :)