“I Live in the Future” Where Video Gameplay Is Real-Life Learning

24 10 2011

Excerpted from “I Live in the Future and Here’s How it Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain are Being Creatively Disrupted”:

These residents and practicing surgeons simply played 3 or more hours of action video games a week. Some of the more advanced video game-playing students managed to make 47% fewer errors than others and were able to work as much as 39% faster. . .

For example, these studies consistently show that playing video games improves hand-eye coordination and increases one’s capacity for visual attention and spatial distribution, among other skills. These increased brain functions are tied not only to game play but to several other real- world scenarios, including surgery.

You may feel like your brain cannot cope with so much information or jump seamlessly from one medium to another, just as you may have felt in high school that you couldn’t learn a foreign language or conquer higher math.

But as the brain faces new language (or acronyms and abbreviations), new visual and auditory stimulation, or new and different ways of processing information, it can change and grow in the most remarkable fashion. In fact, it may well be a natural part of human behavior to seek out and develop unnatural new experiences and technologies and then incorporate them into our daily lives and storytelling.

High-tech gameplay as well as entertainment through the television screen have been part of our happy unschooling from the start, just like libraries and bookloving (ALL the books, not One Book to Rule Them All.) We snook about it often and you can easily search with the little box on the right-hand menu, but here are a few apt posts and conversations for example:

So Young and So Gadgeted, What’s the Right Approach?”

Video Games Bonanza Site — Save This Link!:

Is PBS a credible enough source for whoever in your child’s life clucks disapprovingly at screen time? Click here now — don’t wait, your child’s education and entire future could be at stake! 🙂

My favorite moment in the article is when the author is showing his seven-year-old nephew the SimCity neighborhood that he built. When the author notes that he’s having problem getting a certain area with factories to come back to life, the boy turns to him and says, “I think you need to lower your industrial tax rates.”

Video Games: New Ways of Being in the World

More Kid Stuff or Video Gaming for Real?:

[So] Blake seems happy with his home school arrangement, as you would expect from a teenager who is allowed to stay up into the wee hours to play video games. Sometimes, when Mike heads to the gym before 5 a.m., his son is still playing video games.

. . .when Blake’s older brother wanted Read the rest of this entry »





Favorite Daughter Makes a Star Trek Blog

4 10 2011

Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek is a series of humorous and informative episodes recaps and reviews of the various Star Trek series and movies. Tim and Meredith have different approaches to analysis and interpretation of Star Trek. To learn more, see their individual entries below.

Well, It Was Better Than Learning Elvish, or, How Meredith Came to Star Trek

But Suppose You Maybe WANT Some Technobabble

Dunno how she finds time, what with grad school and working as a library/museum assistant at FSU, plus community theatre (next show opens Friday!) but here’s proof that she does:

I write the Trek summaries the way I see them: stories about people facilitated by technology that might as well be magic. . . .

Deep Space Nine has no good guys or bad guys, just complicated people with complicated views. DS9 is the darkest and most realistic Star Trek, treading fearlessly into topics of religion and politics, eschewing the black and white idealism of the older Roddenberry-helmed shows . . . The theme of this series is Moral Relativism vs Moral Absolutism.

My work is done. 😀





Time for School Again, Even for Real Unschoolers Like Favorite Daughter

29 08 2011

I saw always-unschooled Favorite Daughter’s FB status update this morning:

First day of graduate school! Still chasing the “when you get to [your next degree program] other students will take things seriously and the professors aren’t largely apathetic” unicorn. Here’s hoping I catch it today!

When I say she was always unschooled, I mean she never suffered K-12 compulsory attendance schooling or its curriculum/credits/testing, at home or anywhere else.

So to date I’ve been her guide to All Things School and the teller of inspiring if fanciful tales, the elusive unicorn evoker at each stage of her thrilling headfirst plunge into Education as Schooling By Choice starting at age 15: Read the rest of this entry »





Legos and Play Young-at-Heart, Young-at-Smart

5 08 2011

If you haven’t seen this yet and don’t realize what it is, go do your homework! And let your kids both little and big, help.

And when that gets you in the mood to think more about Legos and how we love them, you can go do reading for extra credit here and here.

Oh, and here and here too, geez, JJ is long-winded on the most esoteric topic! 😀

p.s. Young Son says this will confuse alien life about our nature . . .





Is Early Childhood Education Oxymoronic?

19 07 2011

I am doubtful whether parents want or need ‘a highly skilled, graduate-led workforce’ breathing down their necks as they change nappies and hang out in playgrounds; and in any case, early childhood is about nurture through affection, not training for ‘future life chances’.

Ministers should learn to pick on somebody their own size.





A Musical Theatre Unschooler’s Ode to Last Harry Potter Premiere

14 07 2011

I woke up this morning to discover — posted as a new note on his FaceBook page — what Young Son had been up to all night. Talk about flow! 🙂

As far as his mother knows, this is the first song parody he’s even tried to write, so it just astounds me.

He’s still asleep so for now I can only speculate how it came about. (When I checked just now, one of his Jim Dale-performed Harry Potter audiobooks was playing, as it has all night every night since he started putting together a premiere character costume and pre-purchased his ticket for tomorrow.)

He’s studying French with a private tutor, yet I wonder whether he noticed his parody particularly fits today as Bastille Day, set as it is to music from a French musical, his all-time favorite, Les Miserables.

For my part, I never imagined much less planned for Bastille Day to figure into our unschooling musically or any other way, even though it already has done, for both of them.

Young Son and Les Miserables power of story

Harry Potter power of story

You’ll appreciate this much more if you have the soaring Les Mis lyrics and rhythms in your head, which doubtless aren’t QUITE as deeply bred into everyone as in my house:

Okay? Did you play the video? Do you have a goose-bump or two? Then here we go, exactly as he wrote and posted it! [hush falls over the audience]

“Ode to the Harry Potter premiere”
by Young Son Ross on Thursday, July 14, 2011

(To the tune of “1 day more” from Les Miserables)

‎FAN #1: One day more, another day another costume piece, in this never ending wait to the release. The fans all seem to know it’s time, to buy tickets is not a crime, one day more.

FAN #2: I will not live until that day, the day when it all ends forever

Read the rest of this entry »





Wimbledon Weekend: Why Thinking Parents Should Notice

2 07 2011

You didn’t think an old tennis buff like JJ would leave you with no tennis power of story to think about this weekend, did you? Au contraire!

Is learning play or competition, if there’s a difference? How should we best understand education ideas that push them together and turn learning into contests: being taught/trained to play, playing to win, players going pro?

Peter Gray’s Psychology Today learning blog:

In nonhuman animals, play and contests are sharply distinguished. Play is cooperative and egalitarian, and contests are antagonistic and aimed at establishing dominance. Hunter-gatherer humans accentuated play and avoided contests in order to maintain the high degree of cooperation and sharing that was essential to their way of life.

In our society, with our competitive games, we often confound play and contest. What might be the consequences of this for children’s development?

Put on the Wimbledon finals this weekend and play (but not compete!) along with past tennis-inspired Snooking, including your 2011 game expansion pack: Hair We Go!

This is not the face of a human playing and having fun, even if her hair seems to be playing around and enjoying it. This is Read the rest of this entry »





“Time” for Summer Vacation Talk

23 06 2011

. . .and yes, that’s a pun of sorts. Lame but hey, it’s hot here. Be grateful I can work up a post at all. 😉

And do your reading so you can join the conversation: Time magazine’s The Case Against Summer Vacation

When a local actor-professor friend linked it on Facebook, this blurb appeared:

It’s an outdated legacy of the farm economy. Adults still romanticize it. But those months out of school do the most damage to the kids who can least afford it . . .

To which I responded even before reading the piece:

“Adults still romanticize school, too. 🙂
And family mealtime, bedtime, vacations.
Truth is that when school is better than home for some kids, we ought to fix THAT instead of just making more school. And when life outside of school is better (for kids like mine e.g.) then it’s summer vacation year-round and it’s amazing!
Everything is relative.”

Then I did read the whole thing. Twice. And came away with a strong sense that it’s two or more stories at cross purposes and the author doesn’t get it, that do-good public service types like me have been Read the rest of this entry »





Spring Sprang Sprung! Doctor JJ’s Kids Bustin’ Out All Over

29 05 2011

Our spring showed color early and has been full to bursting since then, with performance, celebration, commencement, remembrance and rites of passage.
And hats.

(This will surely sound like one of those insipid Christmas letters listing stuff about a family you never see IRL, so feel free to skip it or make snarky comments — in the privacy of your own home.) 😉

Maybe the garden metaphor is less fitting than fireworks, or rocket launches. But there have been plenty of flowers, on hats and in centerpieces, on stage and on campus and filling our home. I suppose the season started with Favorite Daughter’s acceptance to grad school and her 21st birthday, clinching a job at the campus music library, apartment hunting for that first momentous move out on her own (she’s lived at home through university) all while sustaining her unbroken streak on the president’s list to lock up her perfect career GPA with a Phi Beta Kappa key.

St. Patrick’s Day was a whole week for both FavD and Young Son, an Irish stepdance marathon of performances for schools indoors and out, for nursing homes and assisted living centers and at two different citywide festivals. Thanks to unschooling, on the actual day Young Son was able to start at nine in the morning and dance straight through until almost ten that night.

Young Son's St Patrick's Day meant dancing for two and then some

I know how much he danced and how much energy it must have taken because I went everywhere with him; I was worn out even though I got to sit the whole time. 🙂

Meanwhile, rehearsals for their latest community theatre musical “CURTAINS” took up most weeknights and Saturdays through March and April, for both kids. (Favorite Daughter was dance captain.)

Curtains Can Can-Can! Favorite Daughter on far left

Young Son front and center

This time the show rehearsed in a vacant mall storefront, filling the atrium far and wide with song and dance, delighting mall-crawlers from all directions — mostly from Barnes and Noble and the sports superstore but also the little kid ride-for-a-quarter machines — whose stopped-in-their-tracks surprise was good fun to watch from a bench nearby while waiting to chauffeur one or both Ross kids to whatever awaited their attention next.

Curtains rehearsing in mall storefront: FavD in blue skirt, Young Son's right half on far right

Young Son took up another wind instrument this spring, in addition to the great highland bagpipes, hornpipes, penny whistles and baritone vocals he enjoys so much: the alto saxophone. MY alto saxophone to be precise. We found yet another tailor-made mentor/private teacher, a world-traveled former US Army Band professional saxophonist who’s now A.B.D. (all but dissertation) at the local university and has his own studio and instrument workshop at home.

Oh, and FavD quite unexpectedly acquired a new costume de rigueur as of April 20, perfectly suited to her scholarly librarian life: her first pair of glasses, which like Young Son, she wears all the time and looks somehow more like herself with, than without. 🙂

On the heels of that bespectacling, Read the rest of this entry »





Power of Story in One Teacher’s Century-long Life

17 05 2011

At 100 Still a Teacher, and Quite a Character:

. . . she recalled how difficult it was to get fully certified by a byzantine school bureaucracy. The examiners had her explain a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and told her afterward she had given “a poor interpretation.” Having been blocked once before because of a trace of a greenhorn accent, she refused to be stopped a second time.

So she did what any true aspirant would have done: she wrote a letter to Ms. Millay and had her evaluate her interpretation.

“You gave a much better explanation of it than I myself should have,” the poet wrote back, and the chastened examiners saved face by urging Ms. Kaufman to try for the license again.

This power of story goes beyond one poem and what’s in work-school words like teacher, certification and accountability. It’s about human identity, who we are and how we came to be and what to do with it.

Her grandfather was the great Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem, a writer who was able to squeeze heartbreaking humor out of the most threadbare deprivation and wove the bittersweet Tevye stories that became Read the rest of this entry »





Spring Comes to Florida Despite Worst Governor Ever

4 03 2011

Young Son's reading tree in full flower as he reads Sherlock Holmes, of course (photo credit - Mom's phone)





Thinking About What I’m Thinking About

3 03 2011

Meta-minded JJ.

Snook just rolled to a pattern-perfect round number: 444,000 hits. It looks so neatly ordered that I might just leave the front page up without refreshing, until I get tired of seeing it.

Last night I passed this place again. A dozen serious young students in white, and I noticed how tall and slender yet well-proportioned, uniform in physique as well as, well, uniform!

Did they self-select into something that suited their body type in the first place, or did this activity affect how they grew and developed, making them better in such predictable ways that after the fact, it seemed they were born to it?

Which came first, I mused. The kickin’ or the edge? [groan]

And does that answer, whatever it may be, apply to our politics and religion, what attracts and repels us in life as we wind up living it, fashions and friends and mates and careers?

Everything is connected including this distracted and distracting brain-dump of a post. I’ve been hacking my head off for a week and it’s wearing on other parts of my body now. With every coughing fit, my lower back twinges; my abdomen feels like it’s herniating; my throat rasps and stings; my brain pounds inside my cranium; my ears ring and I can hear blood rushing inside. Plus the coughing has kept me up so many nights now that my eyes are red and bleary, my joie de vivre and general hygiene sinking toward apathy. I see and understand yet am helpless to resist . . .

.