I asked my son what he thought a person could get from watching
He said he's learned a lot from watching Loony Toons and especially
Daffy Duck. "What?" I asked. "I learned that you really can solve
your problems with dynamite!"
Does the television and game playing become a habit that is all the
child then wants to do.
Don't panic. He was being funny.
But really, maybe hours of Scooby Doo is glorious fun. Fun is serious.
Fun is important, especially for kids. Don't underrate fun. People
are not happy as children seldom find easy or lasting happiness as
But there are all kinds of things a person could get from watching
They are kind to Scooby, they love him and wouldn't leave him behind,
he's their friend and they would do whatever they could to save him if
was in danger. It might inspire someone to think about kindness to
Freddy, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scoob genuinely care about each other,
trust each other. Might inspire thoughts about friendship and trust.
They work together, plan and organize. It might inspire thoughts about
the usefulness of cooperation.
They handle tough situations with humor. That might inspire someone to
think about the value of a happy and positive attitude.
They help people who need help.
The people who need help ask for it.
These are good things.
Viewers might learn about comedic timing, setting a mood with music,
foreshadowing, plot development, character development, dialog, story
line, fashion, animation.
If television and games are only two choices in a whole house and
neighborhood and town and county and state full of choices then they are
no more likely to become habit than anything else. It's up to you to
offer your kids a big life. If you don't do it, it would be very smart
of them, really brilliant of them to find something stimulating and
challenging like TV and games. But if kids are watching because they're
bored then the parents need to think of ways to make life more
interesting. TV should be a choice among many choices, not the only
They may pick up snippets of information from cartoons, but compared
to the hours watching, it seems little knowledge return really.
If a child has a lot of choices and chooses video games or TV then he's
getting something valuable from them. People have all kinds of
during their lives. An intense interest in TV or video games now
probably won't last a lifetime but for some people it might and those
people could someday be sound technicians or cameramen. They might be
producing TV shows, acting, writing musical scores, writing screenplays,
directing, doing stunt work— they might be graphic artists, or writing
codes or software, etc.
Lots of people enjoy TV all their lives. It's no different than
reading or enjoying playing cards.
Some people focus on one thing really intently for awhile, weeks or
months or years and then when they've had their fill, move on to other
things. Someone who's discovered a few great shows on TV might really
focus on them until they've explored every aspect of the characters and
themes, etc. It's the same when a really little child likes mom to read
a favorite book over and over again. It doesn't mean it's a habit, in
the negative way you're using "habit" above. It means some people focus
more fully and deeply and get everything they can from that interest
before moving on.
Many unschoolers and most radical unschoolers don't consider unschooling
to be a method of education. There is no way to completely measure
another persons knowledge. People know so much more than they show the
outside world at any given moment. People are learning all the time.
may not be able to see the learning or name it but it's happening.
Unschooling will be easier for you if you can come to trust this
what skills are they learning that they can use in the world outside
This is a strange statement really. If your kids spent hours in the
during the hot summer would you be wondering what they were getting from
it? Would you be measuring the return. Would you need to document,
in your own mind what they might have learned in/from the water?
Your children aren't outside your home though. They're young and at
with you. What is it that you think they need to know right now, today,
this minute, that they don't know? I'll bet they know what they need
for today. You're speaking mainly about your thirteen year old, I'm
guessing. It will be five years before she can legally leave your
What skills will they get that can help them function as adults?
She's not standing still. It sounds like you want the comfort of
knowing she's ready to be on her own right now, but she doesn't need to
What skills do you have that help you function as an adult that you
believe your child is missing? If you list them I can tell you ways
might come to possess those skills. (or not)
How can this compare to schooled peers who are learning a variety of
Kids who go to school don't all come out the other end ready for life in
the world. A guy my husband used to work with graduated without knowing
how to read. Kids in school are there six or more hours a day one
hundred eighty days a year and still have to "review" when the new
year begins everything they "learned" the previous year. Then there's
remedial classes and homework and summer school and the big push to get
kids to read teacher selected stuff over summer vacations. If ever
was a disparity between time spent and knowledge gained it's in school.
I know we live in a technological society, but shouldn't a childs
world have more in it than just cartoons and computer games? Is this
where strewing comes in?
And the "variety" they're (supposedly) learning in school is selected by
a bunch of fat, rich white guys who believe they know, without a doubt
what every child in the country should know and when they should know
It's not reasonable in any way.
I'll just guess here that your daughter talks to people, talks on the
phone, talks to friends and relatives. I'll guess she reads a little,
goes to the store with you, knows the difference between dirty clothes
and clean ones. She probably sees that grass is green and the sky is
blue and she probably knows birds sing and bees buzz.
I think you're in some kind of panic. I think you're not thinking of
what your kid knows and does in any balanced way because you're so
focused on the thing she's doing that you don't really approve of.
What really helps some people is to make a list of the things their kid
can do and the things they're interested in and the things they love.
Focus on those positive things instead of the negative thing in your
that's telling you your child is missing the mark.
And I'd ask, if you think she should be doing more, what are you doing
make other choices available to her that would be as fun or interesting
as the TV.
Does she have your support in getting to the library or the park or the
pool or the mall? Do you go out to lunch to new places, have
interesting people over for dinner, visit museums, and parks and art
galleries and funky shops and ice cream parlors? Does she have games
play and books and magazines to read? Can she chat with friends
or go to camp if she wants?
Yes, this is where strewing comes in. Strewing should be "in" all along
because people of all ages need to have interesting lives.
The original was on a group called Unschooling Basics. I wasn't in that group, but I did ask to rescue and host the archives when yahoogroups was about to delete them, because much is quoted on my site. Here's that discussion: