RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] video gaming @ school?

From: Hughes <>
Date: Tue Aug 29 16:55:00 2006

Being able to choose... Well anything is such an important part of life. I
once took a child who was 9 into my home for a couple of weeks in the summer
for "the Fresh Air Fund". It is a program that places kids from the inner
city of New York in homes around New England for two weeks. I had such a
romantic idea of how we would all bond and be friends for life and blah blah
blah. Well, the reality was that this child, for his own safety, had to be
locked into his apartment after school while his parents worked. He
couldn't ride a bicyle, swim, or play games of any kind with my two boys. I
had never seen a child who didn't know how to play before. It was a shock.
There were children in this group who freaked out when they heard a vacuum
cleaner for the first time. My point is, well this kid was a whiz at
Nintendo. But the realities of the environment were what they were and he
lacked serious skills for life. Any child playing any game is taking in all
kinds of things that are happening around him. A one minute conversation
can change a life. This boy didn't know how to choose, because he didn't
have many choices. Despite my romantic notion of helping him, it was I who
was given a powerful lesson. Play is everything! Think about it.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Scott David
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] video gaming @ school?

Hi Rosetta,
     Welcome to the list.
     Most Sudbury Model Schools do, indeed, allow video gaming. The topic of
free access to media (which includes discussion about
television) comes up very frequently on this list. It is probably the single
most frequently recurring subject.
     I'd suggest a perusal of the discuss-sudbury-model archives, to read
some of the thoughts exchanged in the past on this, for those who are
interested. I'll also reprise an answer I've given before, but you can find
plenty about video gaming and television at SVS in the dsm

  I've been reading this thread with interest, and growing concern.
People are talking up all the traditional skills that can be learned by
playing arcade games, as though that is the _reason_ why arcade games should
be allowed.

  Maybe I'm just a bit defensive because I happen to love playing all sorts
of games, including arcade games. But I worry a bit when people look for a
"rationale" for playing any sort of game.
  Once in a while, these lines of reasoning might be right -- a person might
either gain a sense of how to master something, or pick up a skill that is
analogous to a skill that the person "really" needs. But frankly, I don't
think that's always the case.

  Most of the elaborate explanations that have been given are effectively
"just so" stories to help convince people who are innately _opposed_ to game
playing that playing games is OK. The argument boils down to "playing games
is _really_ about developing career skills rather than the game itself, and
so the game is good despite your initial reaction."
  I can point to many many hours of my own game play that (as near as I
know) have contributed nothing to any of my particular set of "survival" or
"career" skills, just as I can point to many hours of reading that have only
satisfied curiosity and/or passion on my part but have never been relevant
to any "need." Yet, I would not trade that time for anything "more
effective" -- games and literature and leisure are _reasons_ for living as
far as I am concerned, and that is far more important than being a _means_
of survival.
  I guess I find play to _be_ a valid end in itself. I don't need to prove
that I can get some long term benefit from any given activity in order to
say "that is an activity that I want to do, and hence is a valid activity."

  This is not to diminish the points that one can learn an awful lot at
play, that most significant learning comes from play, or that some things
can _best_ be learned at play.
  But those arguments scare me a little bit, particularly when delivered
with the intensity that I have heard in this discussion.
These arguments suggest that the person thinks play _needs_ to be justified.
As near as I can tell, play is integral to personal fulfilment -- and I see
no need to prove a material benefit when arguing that there is nothing wrong
with children playing arcade games.

  It seems to me that people have to take the bull by the horns and ask
themselves "what is a good life?" before treating the question of play
(including arcade games) seriously.
  Only then will the value of letting people do what they want truly be
realized. While the educationists think that we are arguing for the exact
same goals as them (an adult with a pre-determined set of "important"
opinions and skills) they will always be able to answer "well, ok we'll
engineer the perfect person by allowing _those_ games for x hours per day
and _those_ games for y." And this, of course, _kills_ the real value of
game play -- freedom to experiment for _no_ reason and with no end in mind.

     I'll also add, just by way of footnote, that enjoying media with a
group is an activity that many people who are innately troubled by video
games may feel better about. The social interaction, and the shared response
to the media becomes a key part of the activity. Think about the difference
between reading, playing a game, or watching a movie on your own, and having
a book club, an outing at the movies, or a social game. The media enjoyed at
SVS is usually enjoyed with a group. While I, personally, think that time
with media on one's own is wholly reasonable and healthy, even those who
disagree will usually note that media as a social activity is a different

     Further reading suggested: Killing Monsters by Gerard Jones.

On 8/29/06, rosetta star <> wrote:
> hello I'm new to discussion groups and sudbury model schools. i am
> enrolling my 8 year old son in a new school in asheville NC. The
> school allows video gaming and it is my only concern. i allow him to
> play these games but free gaming all day seems like the equivalent of
> offering chocolate bars as a dinner option. is freedom to "game" typical
at other sudbury model schools?
> is it a hot topic? how do others handle this one? any advice? thanks
> rosetta star

-- Scott David Gray
Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Tue Aug 29 2006 - 16:54:35 EDT

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