Unschooling

The Video-games/Computers/TV issue… (Part one)

I’d like to share this translated article with you. It was published in November 2006 but talks about the time between 1993 to 2006, and it addresses my personal journey as a homeschooling Mom grappling with the issue of video-games/computers/tv in our life, going from total resistance through reluctant acceptance, to total surrender and finally to understanding:

“I recently read Steven Johnson’s new book: “Everything bad is good for you (how today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter)”. I really enjoyed the book. Reading it provided the “missing link” in understanding more about the learning process my children experienced as unschoolers from birth to college.

To understand how this book relates to our family experience with gaming, I must go back and share the following story:

When my older son was six we traveled one day to visit relatives. While my husband and I hung out with the adults, my son went to visit with his cousins, two boys, five or six years older than him who were playing a new magical game on something called “Game Boy”. My son was enchanted. At one point the boys let him have a turn and try it out. And that was it. He was hooked. As always, being enthusiastic and talkative he was sharing all the wonderful things you can do in this game and immediately launched a campaign intended to convince his parents to buy him a Game Boy. His Mom (me) was against it. It did not seem to me something that develops the imagination or enriches one’s spirit. Definitely not something that will develop the mind. It seemed to me something dangerous, addicting. Just like TV. Kids should play outside, read, imagine, and be free… While I was rolling all this in my mind, my son continued his campaign. He wrote many notes with great effort and posted them everywhere around the house: “please, please buy me a Game Boy”, “I really need a Game Boy”, “buy Game Boy” and on and on. I always tend to take what my son states he ”needs” rather seriously, and so I broke down pretty quickly. My husband, who had to travel to the States on business, came back with a Game Boy and a couple of games, and peace returned. That day, however, two gamers were born at our household: my six years old and – heaven forbid – my three years old immediately joined the ranks, too. Not long afterwards, while visiting friends, the boys discovered the Nintendo (this time I did not break-down, but it is interesting to note that until today, 12-13 years later, they remember where they first played Nintendo). Three years later we finally bought a computer with its games and later came the Internet with multi-players gaming, then the PlayStation 1 and 2…”

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