Words Really Do Count

I'm quoting an outside article:
Platform games might as well have been programmed by music teachers - the structure is a wish list of practice techniques.

1) Students are forced to repeat particular sections until they get them right. If the student forgets to jump over the sleeping turtle, and treads on it instead, they get sent back to the start of the section.

"Students" (he's referring to the players of video games as "students") are *NOT* "forced" to repeat any sections of any games. Some of them choose to do that. Some choose to find a different game, or to set the remote control down and go ride bikes. Some would LOVE to choose to repeat particular sections, but their parents or music teachers won't let them.

To call them "students" and use the term "force" shows an extremely different view than I've read about here and in other unschooling discussions for years.

The quote is from a generally lame article called "Nintendo Practice" that suggests that music teachers pretend their music is a fun video game. I play piano; I've played other instruments in formal situations, and this article did not impress me. But if I were to believe that forcing kids to practice music was a desirable goal, it might give me hope.

I'm not recommending the article or the eventually-named product (a book for music teachers, I think), but I did want to make the point that although he's praising gamers, he's missing a very large point. They aren't "forced."

[from an article at practicespot.com (that page was gone, in 2015, so I've removed the link)]


When I wrote the "review" above, I was thinking about that smaller picture. From the perspective of my own life, though, I have said that I play the piano like playing a video game. But what that means for me is that sometimes when I'm passing by the piano, I'll sit down with a piece of music I know fairly well and play it "until I die," which is the third mistake, just to see how far I can get. Or I'll play something harder and go until I'm just stuck, maybe go through that hard passage a few times, take a running leap at it, see how it goes, and then go back to doing whatever I was doing before. Laundry or whatever it was.

When I do that it feels like a timer, and a challenge, and a goof. It's an investment in keeping my fingers operational without "an hour of practice" or any of those thoughts. It's playing with the piano, more than playing the piano. It's a game. I don't have to.

I was forced to learn the piano. Classical, scales etc. one hour practice a day, two hours a day in my final two years. When I refused, my hands were held over the keys till I played. I had to take yearly exams that I got top marks in, and perform in competitions. I won them. The last note I played on the piano was the last note of my highschool exam 22 years ago. I hate the sound of piano now. I hate the memories of having no choice. There was no joy in being good at the piano, except that I got "acceptance" from toxic parents.



In a discussion on facebook (not a great place for philosophical discussions), the word "force" was used, in this writing:

I should also state that sometimes, people choose forced educational standards and that can be a part of unschooling 🙂

My child who is completely unschooled chose to take online classes on the computer. She is now being forced to meet the class standards in order to pass the class. It's arbitrary, forced educational standards that she chose to participate in.

An unschooler, not a radical unschooler, wrote that. It's one of those times when it made a difference.

The discussion roiled for a day and some, and I started a new topic with this:

In another discussion here I had questioned the use of the term "force." Looking for something else tonight, I found this:

*** I've been the homeschooling parent for over ten years now, and am forced back into the workforce due to our financial situation.**

**Please try not to see your situation in terms of "being forced." Your husband didn't die and you're not starving, right? You're working on making choices, you're not being forced at gunpoint to do something, or they wouldn't have let you come and write to us.**

SandraDodd.com/choice about 1/3 of the way down on the left, but the rest of the page might be helpful to people who are feeling trapped in any way.

Sarah Heiner replied:

I love this. I've caught myself saying "I have to..." and have stopped and changed it to "I'm choosing to ..." It makes a huge difference in how I feel about doing something and I've noticed that my 7-yr-old has started to change her wording sometimes also. It makes me happy that my kids will learn this a lot earlier than I did.


One of my favorite things about unschooling as practiced and discussed among some of my favorite unschoolers is the philosophical advantage kids have who grew up with ideas like these. There are adults who can't even read "You don't have to; you choose to..." without thrashing and flailing around and telling us to Be Quiet!!! 🙂

"Word Swords" (not really)

Mindful of Words

The Value of Choices

Thinking About "Have To"