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Where's the line between laziness and radical unschooling? - Page 2

post #21 of 143

I don't unschool my son.  I was unschooled, home schooled, and attended a democratic school, which was basically unschooling at school.  I'm not judging anyone, but my personal experience is radical unschooling works for most children.  I know it didn't work for me, it didn't work for my siblings, and it didn't work for my parents in the long run.  I think unschooling can work under the right circumstances.    

 

Happiness is important, but I don't think it is the only measure to decide if a child is doing well and thriving.  My son would be very happy playing video games, watching TV, and eating Fruit Loops.

I would be happy spending all my time reading, spending money on books, and occasionally walking my dogs, but I wouldn't thrive.  I'd also be homeless, dog less, and book less eventually and cease to be happy.  I have the cognitive judgement to know I need to go to work, pay my bills, and walk the dogs three times a day.  Eight year olds do not have the cognitive ability to always make the choices that are in their long term best interest.  I want my son to have choices in life and to me that includes making sure he has the foundation of good education, some self control, and healthy habits.  I realize that is sounds very authoritarian for this forum and even MDC.  My son self regulates in many areas and has, at least according to most my family and friends, way too much freedom, but there are some desicions he isn't ready to make. 

post #22 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post

Piglet, your children may very well be, dare I say it, just a different ball a wax. And maybe I'm a different ball a wax, but your totally-void-of-any-judgment little play there sounds like something only attainable for those who are naturally inclined or those who are crazy enough to risk a whole lotta time and intention and patience. In the real world in which I live, this shit just comes out, like it or not and I'm not about to pretend that I don't have feelings or doubts in order to give the illusion that everything we do is free of implication. That just is not the world in which I live. I'm sorry. 

 


Wow, it seems like I really offended you or pissed you off and that was so not my intentions. It's very hard to convey tone in text-only and it sure wouldn't be the first time come off wrong. So an apology is my first comment.

 

My second is that I wasn't trying to suggest that you are not supposed to FEEL the way you feel about it. I don't see anything wrong with being authentic about that. And I don't think there is anything wrong with sharing your feelings. While I do truly embrace my children's love of video games, I confess it really irks me if they are inside playing on a gorgeous day. And I don't mind telling them that, either. There are ways to express it without being judgemental (and if you happen to catch me on a good day I might just achieve it!). Also, their love of games is not (so far) having a negative impact on the rest of our family. Things might be different if it was. Still, I would strive to find a solution that the kids can willingly participate in rather than just laying down rules, like it or not. Which isn't to say I don't do that sometimes, but I'm always looking for options that suit my values better, and when people ask such questions in this forum I assume they are looking for the same. 

 

 

 

post #23 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightOwlwithowlet View Post

Happiness is important, but I don't think it is the only measure to decide if a child is doing well and thriving.  My son would be very happy playing video games, watching TV, and eating Fruit Loops.

 


I do think happiness is a good measure, but by happy I don't mean indulging oneself. I mean true happiness, contentment, balance in life, emotional health and well-being. I can't see how anybody can be really happy when indulging in any one thing at the expense of all others. Many people THINK that certain situations would make them happy (the most classic being more money) but in reality they don't. 

 

To my way of thinking, a child who is happy is - by definition - doing well and thriving.

 

 

 

post #24 of 143
My question is, is it truly detrimental to kids to apply some limits/boundaries wrt to gaming? Especially when it's done respectfully and consciously?
post #25 of 143

my neighbors have a 13 year old who cant read or multiply.

post #26 of 143


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post




Absolutely there are people who can't regulate, and there are also reasons to step in and figure out what's behind temporary increases in a single activity, particularly harmful ones like alcohol consumption. But just doing those things in excess isn't in and of itself proof of  a problem. And other people having trouble regulating those things isn't a reason for everyone to put limits on those things, which is what I thought was being implied by equating all those addicting activities.

 

Well, the question was about kids who want to play video games all day, and then further along in the OP she talks of addiction, so I think that discussing more easily understood addiction is relevant. The vast majority of people need no external limits on their alcohol consumption, but some people are unable to stop on their own. I think games might actually be more addictive than alcohol, to be honest, because most people I know have problems limiting them once they start playing. And with no work or school or family demands on their time, radically unschooled teenagers are more vulnerable to it.
 

 

post #27 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post

If my children want to play video games all day, when do I cross the line of fostering dependencies? When does it cease to be allowing for autonomy and actively encouraging addiction? It sounds like everyone wants to stake a claim on one side or the other, but is there some middle ground? Because after awhile, I want us to do something else. I want to see others discoveries happening. And it's always a freaking fight. And that sucks. I don't want to fight.

 

When is it that I've not just given them autonomy but actually given up any authority? I don't mean authority over them. I mean authority of someone who has been in this world and knows a little bit about it. When have I given up their acceptance of me as decently wise and given into their acceptance of themselves as autonomous to the point of not needing to listen and not needing to participate?

 

Does anyone have an answer to this? Because I think this is at the root of a lot of the arguments that happen. I need to know how to measure it. I don't want to just accept that it will work itself out either by giving complete free reign or by becoming authoritarian. How can I be authoritative without being authoritarian? I mean honestly, this is a huge problem in my life.

 

 

 


 

I think you can be authoritative by respecting what your children need and want but by also setting up the expectation (for lack of a better word) that you will guide them towards health and growth.  That's going to look different in every family and I am not sure you are going to find a quantitative study that can guide you. IMO that's where parental instinct and observation kicks in.

 

For our family, we've set up a family environment where it is clear to my kids that there are activities that we participate in as a family, which benefit us all, which help us work towards our goals. We do a lot of talking about our goals, about what it means to be a part of a family and a community,  about how those relationships are built and how our responsibilities to ourselves and our relationships play into that.  Our kids have choice in what they participate in to a large degree (within the constraints of time/logistics/money) and can opt out of individual activities (where logistically possible and when it doesn't torpedo the plans for the whole family) but it's not an option to opt out of everything because they understand the effects of those sorts of choices on their own health and the health of their relationships.  If a child were to start to opt out of too many things, we would start the conversation at that point - what is healthy for them at that point and in the long term.

 

We have family meetings and come up with guidelines that help us live the kind of lives we want. For example we participate in a family co-op which I help organize and which the kids have input in regarding what activities we pursue. We go on a "field trip" or outing at least a few times a month based on what is happening in our community and what is interesting to them. In addition to some of the things we do as a family, the kids can pick two individual activities per season - at least one being a sport. The kids came up with a family rule that we don't turn on tvs and computers at certain times so that we can do other activities together - reading, game night, hikes, lessons etc.

 

I'm not put in a position where I have to choose to play the heavy authoritarian role because 1) they participated in coming up with them and 2) the kids understand that at the core, these are their choices about being their best selves and my role is to help them grow towards who they want to be. 

 

I think if, as an unschooling parent you continue to choose to prioritize absolute freedom over gentle guidance at every opportunity, you devalue your role as a parent in your own eyes and the eyes of your children. There are times when kids may know what they want but we as parents have the wisdom of a longer term view and a better of sense of what they may need.  It's a mistake at that point (well long before that point imo) to continue to allow children to flounder because we are reluctant or unwilling to do the work to offer choice with guidance and within healthy parameters. What's the upside of freedom of choice if kids aren't also given the tools to make good choices?

 

FWIW I don't consider myself an unschooler in part because I part company at the point at which the needs of the philosophy becomes more important than the needs of the child and where parents abandon their instincts in favour of a label.  Many unschoolers strike a healthy balance and kids thrive but I think that it is the absolute opposite of laziness that gets those families to that place. I think it is absolutely challenging and engaging  work to unschool a child sucessfully.

 

post #28 of 143

Annakiss, the TV article I linked to talked about getting involved in the child's activity with them. Could you interact more with them as they play? Watch what they're doing and ask about it, get a new game like Longest Journey where there are puzzles to  work on together, that kind of thing?

 

No matter what anyone else says, you still get to make the call on whether and how to limit your kids' video games, but maybe in the meantime you can still connect more?

post #29 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post




I do think happiness is a good measure, but by happy I don't mean indulging oneself. I mean true happiness, contentment, balance in life, emotional health and well-being. I can't see how anybody can be really happy when indulging in any one thing at the expense of all others. Many people THINK that certain situations would make them happy (the most classic being more money) but in reality they don't. 

 

To my way of thinking, a child who is happy is - by definition - doing well and thriving.

 

 

 


I think you are right, but I don't think my son is cognitively capable of knowing the difference and he needs some guidance.  My own experience with RU, which clearly colors my opinion, was that my parents abdicated responsibility to their children.  It wasn't liberating or fun, it down right terrifying for me.    I'm not saying anyone here is doing that, but when I hear or read RU, I just remember my parents' experiment with it.   

post #30 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightOwlwithowlet View Post


I think you are right, but I don't think my son is cognitively capable of knowing the difference and he needs some guidance.  



ITA. 

 

My idea of "guidance" is pretty much exactly what Karenwith4 has written above. Very well said, Karen!

post #31 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post




 

 

I think if, as an unschooling parent you continue to choose to prioritize absolute freedom over gentle guidance at every opportunity, you devalue your role as a parent in your own eyes and the eyes of your children. There are times when kids may know what they want but we as parents have the wisdom of a longer term view and a better of sense of what they may need.  It's a mistake at that point (well long before that point imo) to continue to allow children to flounder because we are reluctant or unwilling to do the work to offer choice with guidance and within healthy parameters. What's the upside of freedom of choice if kids aren't also given the tools to make good choices?

 

FWIW I don't consider myself an unschooler in part because I part company at the point at which the needs of the philosophy becomes more important than the needs of the child and where parents abandon their instincts in favour of a label.  Many unschoolers strike a healthy balance and kids thrive but I think that it is the absolute opposite of laziness that gets those families to that place. I think it is absolutely challenging and engaging  work to unschool a child sucessfully.

 


yeahthat.gif

I also think very successful unschoolers (be then again, how do define success?orngtongue.gif) may also be the result of a very motivated and driven child. If the philosophy includes the idea that if the child chooses video games all day then that *is* what they need, then that is where I part ways as well.
post #32 of 143

For radical unschoolers who believe it is ok for their children to choose what they do and when eg video games, television, what if the video games they wanted to play were Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, and what if the shows they wanted to watch were Saw movies? I am honestly curious. My husband doesn't see much of anything wrong with allowing a seven year old to make that choice, so I am not just asking to be a devil's advocate; I want to understand the philosophy behind allowing children to make these types of choices for themselves.

post #33 of 143

My kids are free to choose video games all day if they wish, but there are so many other fun things to do and they don't often choose that. When they do, it doesn't bother me any more than they're bothered when I choose to clean all day, talk on the phone with my sister for 3 hours or get lost in a novel.  

 

I think the line between lazy and radical unschooling is ten thousand miles apart.

 

 RU (to me anyhow) involves a LOT of time following their interests. it takes a lot of energy to book a submarine tour, find a video about making crayons, rig up a flashlight to mimic the sun for a model solar system, build a frame for an herb garden, set up the sewing machine,  help chart the PPU's on well water vs tap water for our garden, help feed the chickens, supervise coop-cleaning, care for the rabbit, supervise trapeze play in the yard, help track down dance-instruction videos on youtube, clean (with the "help" of a 5 and 3 yr old) answer ten thousand questions, listen to ten thousand stories, rearrange the living room for wildness if it's too cold to play outside....

 

It's not lazy to "allow" ANYTHING you're feeling bad about, it'a actually lazier to revert to bossiness and "make" them stop.  

 

When I'm feeling bad about something my kids are wanting, I try to isolate my fear and deal with it directly.In the case of video games, it sounds like the general fear is that the kids wouldn't develop other interests, right? Chances are that they already HAVE other interests, are there things you can do to encourage them?  When they're playing the games, you can ask them to discuss the game, find out what they like about it, bring them snacks, learn more about the game they're interested in... Who developed it? How long did it take? What graphics program did they use? What are the rules? Does it have a back story? What inner need is being met when the child plays the game?  Quite often, I think it's the need to effectively tune out mom's constant "Are you playing that game again?" and other forms of disapproval.  See if you can embrace the game, and use it as a tool for exploring the world, instead of discounting it and creating a point of rebellion.  Nothing in this world exists alone- and video games (just like dinosaurs, rocks, pasta or cotton) can be a tool for learning more about the world. They're not a bad thing, they're just a thing.  Have you ever immersed yourself in a game? I went nuts for Tetris in high school and eventually I just moved on to other things. No harm, they're just games.

 

Good luck, sometimes re-framing an issue is the best way to understand it differently. 

post #34 of 143
I think there is a lot of room between screen-based media being "all bad" and it being just another tool to explore the world. There is also a lot of room between allowing kids to engage in something a parent is uncomfortable with (based on sound judgment and life experience) all day long and getting bossy with them to get them to stop.

It seems that often in unschooling circles the parent can no longer attach value to anything (other than absolute freedom). And if that happens it is because parents have their own issues they need to work through. It cannot possibly be based in years of life experience, wisdom, and knowing their own children.
post #35 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekgolightly View Post

For radical unschoolers who believe it is ok for their children to choose what they do and when eg video games, television, what if the video games they wanted to play were Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, and what if the shows they wanted to watch were Saw movies? I am honestly curious.


We have allowed our kids to make these choices for themselves. But not by just saying "okay, whatever." We explained why many parents were uncomfortable with games that emulate violence and immorality. We explained research hypotheses about desensitization and increased tolerance for violence. We explained that the content of those games would have to be assumed to be off-limits to any friends, and assumed to offend the sensibilities of visitors, younger siblings and likely parents as well, and therefore play time would have to be limited when others were around. We explained that if it were up to us we would prefer that they not play such games as young children. I guess that's what you'd call authoritative advice, as opposed to an authoritarian decree.

Our kids were fine with it. They decided to stick with E-rated games for a long time. Around the time my ds turned 12 he was looking for the kind of strategic multi-player game play that is the hallmark of games like TF2, L4D, Portal, Bioshock and others. There were non-mature-rated games that had good strategic qualities, but he found that the on-line community of highly skilled fellow players didn't exist for the tamer fare the way it did for the mature-rated stuff. Players who had the level of sophistication he was craving for collaborative gaming were gravitating to things like Call of Duty and Half Life 2. So he crossed over. I'm honestly fine with it. He's old enough (14 now) to know himself, is well grounded and supremely gentle as a person... and he is respectful of others' sensibilities. He still plays lots of non-violent games, yet playing and excelling at the "mature" variety has given him a real-life community of passionate gamers who are good friends and computer-ing mentors... geeks, repair guys, tinkerers, coders.

His older sister (who is 17) has played a fair bit of Bioshock. His next-younger sister (now 12.5) has recently crossed over a little as well.

I'm comfortable with the choices they have made even though for myself I would never have chosen to have any violent games in our home.

Miranda
post #36 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisarussell View Post

It's not lazy to "allow" ANYTHING you're feeling bad about, it'a actually lazier to revert to bossiness and "make" them stop.  

 

 



IMO this sets up a false dicotomy and both situations totally miss the opportunity for the parent to explore with a child the values and implications behind choices kids make. The hard work in parenting comes from guiding our kids and allowing them the freedom to make (certain) choices within those parameters. So yes I do think it's lazy parenting to allow kids to play video games all day if there isn't ongoing dialogue about those choices and the alternatives the child may be missing, and a concerted effort by the parent to ensure that the gaming isn't used excessively as an escape from real life. And while it's true that nothing exists in a vaccum I think that there is limited value in gaming continuously if the child doesn't naturally expand beyond the confines of the game to explore other the connections.   

post #37 of 143

With respect to violent games and movies, I haven't had to impose any limits there. My kids have always been sensitive, they stuck with things along the level of Blue's Clues well beyond when their school friends were watching more intense shows. 

 

I myself am very sensitive to violence. Many of the shows DH watches (Godfather, for example) are too violent for me. My kids have heard me talk about this, so the idea of self-regulating was put in their heads early. 

 

When DS got into video games that involve fighting (like Super Smash Bros, for example) we had many conversations about game violence, what constituted excessive violence, and I would often ask him to check in with himself and see how he felt about a game. He would pretty much always ask me if I thought a new game was violent, so we had these discussions a lot. We talk about why they might be undesirable, what effects they might have on a person, and (the biggest issue for me) the desensitization towards things that actually happen in less fortunate parts of the world.

 

Both kids went through a brief period where they were having bad dreams. Whether the dreams were about something they'd seen, I don't know, but they both felt that watching violent games or movies would surely bring on more bad dreams, and so they actively reject anything that may appear violent. 

 

Because I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing myself, I would ask them not to play such things (if they wanted to) around me. Even DH waits until late at night to watch things he thinks I'll find too much (any war movie, for example). We live in a small house, so we all have to consider the feelings of others when making such choices. 

post #38 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post

My question is, is it truly detrimental to kids to apply some limits/boundaries wrt to gaming? Especially when it's done respectfully and consciously?


Nobody answered this so I thought I'd give it a shot. 

 

My kids have their passions, as we all do. Right now for DD it's anything to do with whales. It used to be dinosaurs, then ladybugs, then lizards. You see the theme here. ;-) These are the things she gets really excited by, turned on by, she can't get enough information about them and it seeps into all her other activities (role-playing games, art projects, etc). DD gets a clear message from anybody and everybody that what SHE loves has value and will serve her well in the future. 

 

For my son, video games are his passion. He also explores the subject through other activities. He is just absolutely excited by all things related to video games. But society doesn't value his passion the way they do his sister's. In our family, however, we do. We never treat is as something useless or detrimental to his well-being.

 

One of the many reasons we shun institutional schooling is the message it sends to children that they can't be trusted to know what they should learn, that the things important to them are not of value, are not going to help them in life. They're told that the teachers know what is best for them, and the curriculum is what is good for them. I wholly reject this, so it's important to me that my kids' passions are honoured and respected.

 

Our neighbour's grandson shares the same passion, and it's wonderful to see him and DS get together and share their passion with each other. Just like I'm thrilled when I meet someone and find out they knit! That child has strong restrictions on his playing, and just the other day he was telling me that he hates how his grandma is always telling him that video games are useless, teach nothing, rot the brain, etc. He said that it hurt his feelings to hear her say that about something he really enjoys and loves (he's 8, btw). I felt really sad for him.

 

Anyways, this is why our family doesn't put restrictions on gaming, or treat is as being better or worse than any other pursuit. However, I'm not dealing with addiction and it hasn't prevented DS from engaging in many other activities both in and outside the home. Also, if gaming were not something that DS was obviously really passionate about, we might approach the subject differently. I don't believe in absolutes, so I would never say that NO kid should have limits on gaming. I'm just saying that, IMO, there is a risk when we start treating gaming as something to be controlled and limited, at least for a certain subset of kids for whom it represents a real passion.

 

post #39 of 143

My son is seven and he has wanted to play Manhunt since he was five. My husband feels that my son is really losing out because I won't let him watch Godfather. I can't let go of my gut feeling that this is flat out wrong, so I haven;t given in. I wish someone here had wrestled with this and sorted a way to be ok with it when discussing such a young kid such as my DS.

 

He plays Starcraft 1 and 2 online, and has played some mature games, but then I limited them again. I do not limit any content that is rated for teens, be it movies or what have you.

post #40 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekgolightly View Post

For radical unschoolers who believe it is ok for their children to choose what they do and when eg video games, television, what if the video games they wanted to play were Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, and what if the shows they wanted to watch were Saw movies? I am honestly curious. My husband doesn't see much of anything wrong with allowing a seven year old to make that choice, so I am not just asking to be a devil's advocate; I want to understand the philosophy behind allowing children to make these types of choices for themselves.


While my child chooses his video games and how much he plays them, no one in his life was playing more violent ones in front of him.  So it simply didn't come up.  Letting a kid do something doesn't mean introducing him to everything, either.  Honestly, I'd be annoyed if my dh played graphically violent games around ds.  But dh is not attracted to those sorts of games.  One thing he did do was introduce ds to movies that were too scary/intense for him.  That didn't go over well because ds is very sensitive to scary movies, including Disney ones.  Dh figured out he needed to be more discriminate and ds self censored those things easily.  

 

Ds does like more sophisticated games than his same aged peers so he plays some online multiplayer games where the biggest problem is the in game chats.  The chats have an amazing amount of sexist, sexual, racist, bigoted, anti-homosexual talk with a liberal amount of curse words.  Much of it is young men experimenting with the uncensored freedom and the anonymous format of the games.  Although I'd rather do without this element of the games, I'm glad it is not something ds is discovering alone in his room.  I sit with him, answer his questions, give him my opinions, etc.  Letting him play this game is far from lazy.  It takes a lot of my time and energy.

 

Ds is radically unschooled but I share my opinions and values with him.  I never got the memo that that wasn't allowed winky.gif.  I don't go out of the way to introduce him to things that I don't feel are developmentally appropriate.  We deal with them if they come up.  I don't let him break the law.  I remind him to brush his teeth and I encourage him to round out his diet with the occasional fruit or vegetable.  But I treat him and his opinions respectfully.  I don't feel they have less value than mine.  They are sometimes based on less experience but the best way to gain experience is to try things for oneself so I don't get in the way unless I think it's something truly harmful.  One example of something I think falls into that category is porn.  Ds discovered he could access thousands of online videos.  He is very intrigued.  I am quite at peace with putting my foot down and not letting him watch (and yes, there was lots of discussion about why though he remains unconvinced).

 

I've never been concerned about the quantity of time ds plays video games or watches tv.  He might do it a lot, likely more than many people would find comfortable.  But he really will stop.  He's always happy to have a real life interaction, instead.  I don't know if that's because he's an only child so a real life playmate is treat or if it is just due to his temperament.  I don't know anyone with a video game addiction so it's hard for me to think of it as a concern.  And I get ds out and about as much as I can manage and arrange play dates as much as I can because he really enjoys them.  

 

Someone once told me she could never unschool because it meant letting society raise her child.  It was quite a surprise to me that some people felt that unschooling meant avoiding giving kids any input, advice, suggestions, or sharing values.

 

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