Monday, January 30, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Of Cats and Beasties

Our life is flowing along and right now we seem to have a hit sweet balance between schooling and unschooling. I still maintain that we could never be unschoolers because I do not believe that humans are fully natural beings. We are shaped by our surroundings, and thus to suggest that we have a "natural" way of learning just doesn't work for me. But I do believe that if we surround our children with enriching things to read and do, they will want to learn and turn to us for guidance on how to learn better. But anyway that is likely a post for later when I feel like dealing with all the hate.

Lately the beasties have been thrown into cat obsession. Even Camille who is normally firmly in the doggie camp, can't stop thinking about cats. Why? Erin Hunter's (who is really THREE people my beasties discovered all on their own) Warrior series has crept into our household. The kids read the books, the comics, the "field" guides. My house is littered with thousands of pictures of Warrior cats battling it out or nursing kits (I love these pictures). They were just as thrilled with the complete set of the first books my dad got them for Xmas as the video games, etc. They sit at the dinner table and regale us with stories of the cats. They set up their plastic cat toys and act out warrior games.

But there were other things that were happening that I missed because I got wrapped up in what they shouldn't be doing. Let me explain. My kids love this online gaming platform called  Roblox. And when I say love it's more like obsession. They'd play all day long if I let them. For the most part, I regarded Roblox as a waste of time. It was fun,and the kids had a good time playing and interacting with others. It did provide us with a good object lesson in Internet security but that was the limit I saw to its usefulness.

As time went on, I began to notice that there were things they were learning. They were learning to get along with people or not. They found spaces in which to share their interests because they didn't have the spaces in front of them. Two events hammered in how much they were acquiring by playing this seemingly silly game.

First, the girls discovered that someone had made animation of the first Warrior book on YouTube. They were so fired up. Initially they wanted to learn animation (and they still do) but they realized it was going to take some time to do this. They wanted to make a film of book 2 now. This is when they hit on the idea of making it on Roblox. They would make a call to other players, write a script and then "role play" the book. They were very excited and this lead to a flurry of script writing with lots of help from us. The thing is that we did not insert ourselves into this project. They came to us. How did they make a script that wasn't long but included the whole book? Did this sound realistic? What characters should be included? They were learning a ton of stuff that didn't involve a lesson but did involve learning opportuntities and things they had been doing with me.

Second, they discovered politics. They happened to be playing the day that many sites were protesting SOPA. Roblox had a little statement and many of the other players had their characters wearing antiSOPA shirts. Of course Umberto wanted to know right off what was going on. We had a great conversation about what was at stake for all sides, and he was quite outraged. He then went onto have several conversations with other players about why SOPA would be bad. And he was aware enough to keep an eye out for news and told us when Congress put a stay on the bill.

My beasties periodically remind me that learning can happen everywhere. Even when we're not expecting it. It's a good lesson to keep in mind not just as I home school but in my own life. I have more to post on this later but that feeling of being lost has returned, and I realized that without the direction of school and deadlines I have a hard time learning. My children do not have this and I realize they have been given a lovely gift. It's a gift I hope I can pass onto myself.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day in the Life 1/21/2011

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A Day in the Life 1/21/2011, a set on Flickr.

This is the second day in the life of the 7 week series. Saturday.