Sunday, November 04, 2007

End Results

Kelly Lovejoy sends good quotes from the UnschoolingBasics list pretty often, but here's one I couldn't stop thinking about.

Someone new to the ideas wrote:
I still find it hard to believe that allowing kids full rein of
electronics for months on end will actually help them learn
self-control. Is there anyone that has seen the end result of it?
Caren wrote:
Not to be snarky, but... how can *you* controlling someone else teach
them *self*-control?

I was "disciplined" as a child - meaning someone
else controlled my actions (around them, anyway) through coercion and
punishment. I did *not* learn self-discipline. I learned distrust of
and alienation from that parent. Perhaps most harmful, distrust of my
own inner voice. It has taken years (and years and years) to regain
that. "The end result" of not limiting games, TV, etc. is that my kids
are learning to listen to *their own* inner guidance about how much is
"too much". They are learning what *they* enjoy, not what I think they
should enjoy


There was more, and it's good. It's at the bottom of the page on Control. I'm not on that discussion list, and didn't get to comment directly, but because my children are good examples of results, it's been running through my head since I read it.

"End result..." When do we measure "end result"? Each of my children is on a landmark year at the moment: The boys are 21 and 18, and our only girl just turned 16. Is this the time to measure "end result"?

We started from when they were babies, and didn't take a previously controlled school kid and make the transition. I have helped a few hundred families make those transitions, though, and collected their reports and comments.

If there is ever an "end," the results won't matter anymore. But as long as life continues, the results unfold. Are my children better friends and better employees because of the freedom they had? It seems so.

When they marry will they be good partners? Would that be an "end result"? What kind of parents will they be? What kind of managers will they be when they've worked for years and are in a position to make decisions about other people's employment? What kind of neighbors will they be? How will their longterm health be affected by their early freedom to make their own choices? Will they be more or less likely to be binge eaters, substance abusers, hypochondriacs? When they're old, will they still be active and interesting? Will their early freedoms affect their geriatric physical and mental health?

Some results along the way look promising.

Caren wrote:
And the end result, for me, is not that ultimately they'll watch or
play less. It used to be, before I really understood unschooling. (and
when I still demonized TV) I used to think "OK, if I "let them" watch
all they want, eventually they'll tire of it and move on." Now, the
phrase "let them" seems foreign to me, and I have the attitude of
hoping what they're doing is bringing them joy, whether that's
watching TV, gaming, building a Lego city, or playing outdoors.

It's a bit difficult to explain how that shift occurred, but the word
"allowing" comes to mind. I let go, then let go some more, and in the
process discovered a deeper connection with my kids than I knew was
possible... and because of the inner work involved, a deeper
connection with myself.

Our lives are surrounded by the "end result" of people who grew up with too much parental control. The hurts can last a lifetime and be passed on to all around. Some adults are catatonic with indecision and fear when faced with the simplest of life's decisions, because they were never allowed to make decisions when they were growing up, and were assured they would have screwed up everything if the parents HAD loosened control.

I see those results every day. I still see them in myself sometimes, and I'm 54 years old. I see them in people I've known since we were kids, as they still must negotiate with the voices in their heads saying, 'No, don't.'

Before Marty and Holly were ever born, Kirby played video games. He wasn't very good yet. (Keith and I had an Amidar game we bought when an arcade was clearing out old games.) He also had Broderbund's Playroom (in black and white at first), to play on the Mac IIsi, and a few other computer games.

When he was five, though, we got him an original Nintendo system. He would ask me to get past the koopas on the second level, but from there he was good.

Now he works for a video game company that does online games. But that's not "the end result." That's another moment in a life full of moments in which he was free to choose.
"I still find it hard to believe that allowing kids full rein of
electronics for months on end will actually help them learn
It's not "for months on end," it's for life. And it's not "self control," it's self awareness.

Joyce sent me a link this morning to an article I didn't have on my videogames page. It's not a new article, but it's a good one, and it's at the top of new links there.


Glenda said...

Nice post.

Cute pics!

Dana said...

Hi Sandra,

Very VERY thought-provoking and inspiring to me as a parent ... thank you ... and cute pics, too. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandra Dodd said...

Nearly ten years later, I came to this page to get the photo of Kirby playing Amidar.
I did that because on two Korean dramas in a row, they played a game the amounts to eenie meeney miney moe, and it looked familiar. Looking online for more info about it, I saw Amidar mentioned. And the game is "Climbing the ladder," but it's played on paper, and someone is chosen (wins or loses).

"Ghost Leg (Chinese: 畫鬼腳), known in Japan as Amidakuji or in Korea as Sadaritagi..." (wikipedia says it's called)

I went to see if all of the post above was on my website. Some of it became an article called Magic Window.

I think the post as a whole is good, but do I save EVERYthing on my website? Sometimes I miss this blog being busy, but Facebook does have nice advantages. The internet changes very quickly, and I think the info on this page is worth having in more than one place.