When I started homeschooling, I used workbooks. I got my kids through a whole grade level in about two months. But I found myself forcing my kids to learn stuff they were not interested in learning. The constant arguing killed me, and the lack of excitement over learning seemed like the opposite of what we were aiming to do.

I read about self-directed learning and every time my kids chose video games, I read more research about the benefits of video games to keep myself calm.

At this point, I see the idea of forcing kids to learn set curriculum as something left over from another era, when the world of information was small enough to be broken into topics. And I see limiting screen time as stupefying, when sitting at a desk listening to a teacher answer another kid’s question about material you already know is much less engaging than sitting at a desk playing a video game.

Somehow, through all this, I became the spokesperson for parents who let their kids play video games all day. So I find myself doing interviews with reporters each week. Here are two interviews I’ve done recently. The first one is in a mainstream newspaper in the UK and the second interview is at one of the largest gaming sites. The most interesting thing to me about the articles is how it shows the ways other people understand the idea of letting kids choose what they want to learn.

Are Video Games Good for You? Can Button Bashing Prepare Children for Adult Life?, by Ross McGuinness

School of Hard Blocks: Educating Kids Through Gaming, by David Owen

 

17 replies
  1. karelys
    karelys says:

    Very cool.

    I wonder what it is about certain people that makes them good at video games and how we can translate that to the work place.

    I suck at video games. And when my brothers tell me to practice it just takes too long for me to become invested. So I know that somehow my brain is not set up the same way theirs is.

    If I can figure out how to word that then the joke “I’ll put that in my resume” (when people get an awesome score on COD) will actually work really well in real life!

  2. Heather Sanders
    Heather Sanders says:

    I’m glad the Metro article has balance because it started out sounding as if the boys weren’t learning anything but Minecraft, but then rounded out nicely with their business interests and chores.

    • mbl
      mbl says:

      I agree with those things, but do wish that more of their interests (music, etc.) were featured. Although that would certainly decrease the appeal/sensationalism of the articles.

      There are certainly those who become truly addicted to gaming. (guys who urinate into two liter bottles to minimize breaks–ick) But, presumably, if one has an addictive personality, they’ll just find something else to feed them. No?

  3. C.A. Lewis-McCarren
    C.A. Lewis-McCarren says:

    I am interested in the sensory value of “gaming”. My son has a language disorder and other neurodevelopmental issues. I have been researching and learning about memory mapping and sort of “re-wiring” the brain with playing games (educational/recreational) and how it is so much better for them because it DOES hit all of the sensory areas at once. Interesting.

    Oh – and a shout out to Heather above!!! I didn’t realize you hung with Penelope too!!! LOL!!!! :)

  4. Jail
    Jail says:

    Here’s what I like about minecraft. I have six children. They all want to play, but we only have one computer. They each get 15 minutes. That translates to them all sitting together helping each other unlock the puzzles (or whatever they are, I can’t stand video games, so my eyes glaze over whenever they tell me about what they are doing.) or sometimes one of them will play on their iPhone or iPod with a sibling.

    They help each other research answers, they swap turns and buy (literally) time from each other. It’s a fascinating business culture. And when they do all that without me having to break up the fights, I feel like the valedictorian of world peace. As soon as they get contentious, off it goes.

  5. Jail
    Jail says:

    One more thing: they can earn minecraft time, which is a very cool way to get them to do things they hate, but which need to be done, such as laundry, dishes, extra chores, goal setting, etc.

  6. Lizarino
    Lizarino says:

    Seriously, because of your articles on being pro-video game I have let my kids play their video games as long as they want. They stop playing when they are done, sometimes it’s only 20 minutes, and sometimes it’s 2 hours…I’ve learned to not let it bug me. It helps me knowing that it’s just LeapPad and the games are all educational, reading, spelling, math…

    But I was wondering if you consider this homeschooling/unschooling, parenting, or both?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s great to hear! I love knowing that we are all making changes together.

      I think of unschooling as the idea that kids don’t need to be told what to learn. Giving kids freedom to choose activities when they are done with forced learning is not unschooling, it’s forced learning with breaks.

      Penelope

      • Lizarino
        Lizarino says:

        Haha! Love the last line….”…it’s forced learning with breaks”!

        I’m in this adventure of unschooling with you, constantly learning, changing, just being adaptable…

        Although, I was wondering if I should email you or just ask the question on here… about giftedness/high IQ… etc…

  7. carol abella
    carol abella says:

    I agree!

    I love this and loved your interview David Owen. Your answers cracked me up. But I do agree that there is a value in video games that teaches kids to think differently than kids in regular school, in a postive way. My 6 yr old son also plays minecraft and I would only download upgrades for him if he can read the word and because of this incentive he is taking his own initiative to learn to read!

    I would say that not all homeschooling moms in the Philippines (where I come from) have this perspective and would probably raise their eyebrows at me. (These are the ones you called morons in your interview, ha!)

  8. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Great post. I personally love playing video games, I guess it would be natural for us, male, to love it. Though it would be best to control and minimize playing games.

  9. Richard
    Richard says:

    I may be a vit young to be posting here, (13), but me mom flat out refuses to even consider that unlimited video game time is good for you. I’ve shown her your articles, and even let her watch me play, explaining how various things in the game will help me find a job in the workplace. I’m not even asking to be taken out of school to play video games, or to go play the whole day. I’m asking to go on after I do my chores, exercise, etc. Any advice?

    • Venus
      Venus says:

      Keep doing your research, and continue trying to state your case. Continue showing her how each thing you are doing may be helpful. Maybe someday she’ll see the value more than the assumed drawbacks. I think it’s good she is at least willing to watch you play, and listen to your case. That would be my advice. Keep trying to approach her as an adult and showing the positives, and maybe include the negatives of not allowing some leeway in this realm. Also find more evidence to state your case, like data, studies, and reviews. The more professional evidence you have on your side the more difficult (I would think) it will be for her to ignore your views on the matter.

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