[Discuss-sudbury-model] The problem is balance . . .

From: David Rovner <rovners_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Sat Mar 1 15:56:01 2003

*Very important,* Peter, and also very difficult to carry it out:
>The problem is balance. The balance between the needs and wants of the
community and the
needs and wants of the individual.<

~ David

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Talbot" <dumbguy_at_covad.net>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2003 10:01 PM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Computer Games at School

> > A question. Can you tell me what Sudbury school (or any democratic
school)
> > policies are about playing computer games and watching TV? On the
Sudbury
> > website, there are pictures of kids playing and embroidering and
walking
> and
> > watching other kids and building. None of anyone sitting in front of a
> screen.
>
> At the Chicago Sudbury School we have kids playing computer games all the
> time. The only limit we set on computer use time is for purposes of
> fairness--kids get 3 hours of "priority use" that they can sign up for in
> 1-hour increments. This system of limitations only exists because we have
> more kids than computers, and the issues of equal access and fairness are
> important.
>
> We also have kids talking, doing sewing projects, playing piano or bass
> guitar or cooking *all the time.* The same kids. While we do have a TV, I
> have yet to see anyone watch it (excepting our sleep-overs, where movies
> are a staple).
>
> I guess the point I'd like to make here is three-fold:
> 1. an interest in computer games does not necessarily preclude interests
in
> other things.
>
> 2. An interest in computer games is not a "bad thing" that we as adults
> have some need to limit/control, in my mind. Our computer corporation
> installed two games last week. A program called Snood, and an Internet
> chess program called BlitzIn. Few in established academia would argue that
> chess is a total waste of time (my girlfriend disagrees, btw), but many
> computer games are no less "deep" than Chess, Mah-Jong, Go and other
> traditional games that are held to be intellectual pastimes. Yet many make
> a judgement that computer games are somehow of less value. Why? Who gets
to
> decide whether a game is or is not mentally stimulating? Someone who's
> never played the game? Seems pretty arbitrary...
>
> 3. Golf. Golf is **the stupidest excuse for a game on the planet,** in my
> opinion. It even has a stupid name. Yet many people enjoy this "sport" and
> it has become **the** social game of the power elite. Is it possible that
> MMORPGs, or yes, even Snood will have a similar place in future social
> networks? It's possible, especially as kids (future adults) become more
and
> more skilled with computers at younger and younger ages.
>
> My personal prognostications aside, the future is uncertain; we don't know
> what skills these kids are going to need. What does seem certain is that
> with our highly specialized society, each individual will need a skill set
> as unique as he or she is.
>
> >As we get turned around, putting some of these ideas into practice, do we
> >leave it all completely open? Kids get to choose what they want to do.
WEll,
> >we're already not letting them get by without helping in the upkeep of
the
> >family. Chores are part of their life.
>
> Nor should we, in my view. As you say, chores are part of life. Service on
> our Judical Committee is part of life at our school. Cleaning up after
> yourself is a fact of life anywhere. When time spend in front of a TV or
> computer screen interferes with getting essential things done, *then*
> there's a problem. But the problem isn't a computer, a book, a set of
chess
> pieces or any other activity that a kid gets immersed in. The problem is
> balance. The balance between the needs and wants of the community and the
> needs and wants of the individual.
>
> In our school, there was a problem with people getting their chores done
at
> the end of the day, so we passed a rule that the computers be shut off
> earlier. Simple, to the point. It allowed people who were really into what
> they were doing time to go "okay, what do I need to do before I leave."
> Since the rule passed, people have been better about doing their chores
and
> taking care of their personal clean-up. This makes Peter a happier Staff
> Member. =)
>
> It does become a time-management problem, and one of responsibilty. People
> need to be held accountable for how they spend their time when they aren't
> meeting their obligations, whether these obligations are financial, civic,
> family, or to school. A kid trying to wiggle out of responsibility is a
kid
> trying to wiggle out of responsibility. You can't let them get away with
> that, or they will learn that they can, and that's pure poison. But don't
> blame the computer, and don't let them blame the computer either. It's an
> inanimate object. One with an off switch.
>
> >Some, in the unschooling sub-culture LOL would say "Yeah. Let him choose
> >whatever he wants, including as much TV and computer as he feels like." I
> >doubt the wisdom of that. But they also say "He won't do only that,
forever
> >and ever. He'll find other things to do when screen time gets boring."
>
> Risky as it sounds, I have to agree with this. Let him burn out on it. I
> was chatting with an adult college friend of mine who mentioned we had
just
> installed Snood at CSS. Her response was "OhMyGod, I was so addicted to
> that game--now I can't stand the sight of it." She's an adult, and a
bright
> and successful one by any standard.
>
> I don't see where a kid who is a free to choose how to use his or her time
> would handle it any differently.
>
> Peter
> (apologies if my rant seems repetitive with joe's)
Received on Sat Mar 01 2003 - 15:48:42 EST

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