What can they learn from _____? A Candid Conversation

What can they learn from ______? <insert video game or tv show or whatever most people consider “not educational” – pick your favorite non-educational thing and talk about what YOUR kids learned from it. :D->

Cathi D–We watched Monuments Men the other night. Didn’t have to explain the beach at Normandy to the kids at all. They knew it from a video game re-enacting D-Day. It made me think of the similar learning done in medieval re-enactments. Plus they got a quick education in European art, geography and edifices from the movie itself.

I’ve also noticed they know a lot of ancient culture basics from playing Civilization, like which rulers are from which cultures/regions.

Shelli D– What can they learn from “Runescape“? For those who don’t know, Runescape is an online RPG. My teenage son (who has been playing this game for 6 years) has learned conflict resolution, communication skills, working as part of a team, math/word problems, spelling/grammar, keyboarding, problem solving, etc. He has an online group of friends from all over the world of all different ages. RPG’s are great ways to learn all of these skills and more! Some other great ones are Minecraft and League of Legends.

Heather Y– Hetalia. Hetalia. Hetalia. Their obsessive watching lead to fanfic writing has lead not only to actual writing, including basic grammar, plot development, character development, character design, story arcs, and so on. Basically we have had conversations that you generally don’t run into till 4th year college writing courses. Add in excessive knowledge of countries, WWI and WWII – to the point where they have corrected my history buff mother-in-law on numerous occasions. Discussions of cultures and how they affect country personality, politics, etc. Hetalia also glad to developing their manga drawing skills- and both girls are moving towards careers in writing and drawing because of it.

Not to mention developing their cosplay skills and making them WANT to cosplay more. Hetalia may even be considered the impetus to friendships, willingness to go to crowded anime conventions, willingness to start online business, and so on.

Patrice L– Haha! This was kinda tough as I have a harder time not seeing the value in virtually everything. I can talk myself in circles on what a person can learn from any and everything.

Ok so, I think I have something that’s not “educational” in and of itself,-even though I can argue otherwise- Korean pop music and their videos. Of course, she has picked up lots of Korean, can identify the characters that are Korean vs Chinese and or Japanese.

She knows lots about the culture and it has led her to a universal language that has no ties to any “native land”- Esperanto. She’s learning that language and is even teaching another homeschooled friend. They are speaking back and forth. She’s also found people online to speak with.

Stacie M– The kids have been watching a Lego series on Netflix. They now know that “Chi” refers to ones energy and that it is a Chinese concept. Because he asked me a question about it, we had a little discussion and he knows that I learned more about Chi when DH and oldest DD took Kung Fu for a bit years ago.

My 4yo knows about great white sharks and hammerhead sharks because of the Hungry Shark Evolution game/app which is brother and dad play and The movie Sharknado.

DS9 just learned that you can look up questions you have about games in the Internet and is keeping me updated on how much money he’s earned in Hungry Shark Evolution and how much more he needs in order to buy the next/bigger shark (currently working toward getting a Tiger Shark). It’s also fun to hear him and DH discuss ways to handle different situations that come up in the game.

DS9 has always been interested in sharks so, due to various shark movies and games (not documentary types), he knows all kinds of facts about sharks.

Gail P– Nintendo 64 Paper Mario and Mario 64-a lot of reading. And of course puzzle solving. And determination to get to the next level and also a desire to master by revisiting the game several times over the years.

Jessie L–Unrestricted time online has taught my kids how to research, they often compare and contrast items they wish to buy, sometimes putting months of research in, to ensure the best deal & best product for their money.

Brandy C– Playing Civilization, Age of Empires, and Pharoah has taught my daughters about ancient cultures, strategy, and math.

Playing zoo tycoon has helped them learn more about animals (preferred habitats, their location, their breeding habits, what they eat, etc). They like to watch the other play and make suggestions. Which means they also learn peaceful resolutions to inevitable conflict
Plus, since we have the Dinosaur Digs expansion pack, they learn all kinds of stuff about dinosaurs. And the Marine Mania expansion pack teaches them about all kinds of marine life.

Playing these games requires a lot of reading and reading comprehension, has led to further discussion about all kinds of topics, has helped their imaginative play, and has also sparked plenty of short stories that they’ve written or provided facts they’ve used in their stories.

It has also given my 10yo daughter a new-found appreciation for history. She’s devouring other history books as a result. Including reading up on martyrs that died during those time periods.

Cathi D– Patrice, Esperanto has great personal significance for my family! My grandparents met and fell in love at the Esperanto club in England after WWII.

My grandfather’s journal was written in Esperanto–he missed a ton of school due to polio as a child, and writing in English never became easy for him. The relative simplicity of the language’s rules enabled his literacy.

My grandmother translated it to English years later. We also have her handwritten journal that she kept to keep herself from going crazy while they were emigrating to Canada–he went first and she missed him horribly. It was mostly in English with mundane daily notes, but her most personal and sad romantic thoughts were written in Esperanto.

I suppose she thought it would be private, but she brought us to Canada. We learned enough French that we can catch the gist even without an Esperanto dictionary. Very sweet and sad all at once.

Brenda B– What can they learn from playing online with friends they’ve never met for hours at a time?

With Skype (audio, video and type chat) and games like Roblox and Minecraft dd9 has learned:

Inter-personal relations, what really is name calling, how to mend friendships, that apologizing even if you don’t know what you did can restore a relationship, cooperation, sharing, encouragement.

This is my “learn by fire” kid and her gaming has allowed a safe place to learn potentially hard lessons. Besides spelling, spacial relations and other mathy stuff, the relational and character building have made the most difference.

We’re still working on the time management.

Patrice L– CathiLyn, that is amazing! Thanks for sharing that wonderful story.

Jessie, I see those same benefits here too. My children research everything. By the time they come to me about something, they have it all together. When my oldest was interested in switching dance schools, she’d already narrowed it down to two choices before I knew she was interested in moving on. When she read Robin Hood, she fell in love with archery, found that our local 4-H organization offered it free of charge, then she came to me saying she was interested in doing it. I thought I would have to search for a class but she had it all together. All I had to do was take her. She had even written to the group and when she came to me, had the mail from them about their upcoming Open House to sign up for clubs.

Heather S– Mine have learned from Minecraft, netflixmovies, Bizarre Foods was a HUGE HUGE HUGE favorite here! It really urged some amazing meal adventures and learning expeditions. My oldest was inspired to teach herself Greek after reading the Percy Jackson books. My 12year old is taking responsibility for her own education to become a vet-she asked for Switched on Schoolhouse, and Teaching Textbooks. She also scheduled a visit to a local vet clinic to ask the vets what they felt was most important in their school careers to be a vet. My 16 year old spends hours on YouTube watching the Slow Motion Guys for her animation techniques, and just taught herself how to use her Wacom Bamboo tablet.
I honestly still question myself many days, but I plow through it!

Pam C– I guess, I will just say that there has never been one single game played, one single movie/tv show watched, one single Youtube video viewed that they did not learn something. They have continually brought all kinds of subject matter to my attention over the years and I’ll ask “where did you learn that?” and some game, book, magazine, movie… is mentioned. I have no concern at all that people learn. Period. When we start determining important things to learn, someone is going to miss out on something. Encourage it all, and more and more is built uponby bits and pieces and soon large, whole ideas are there. They often have information on things I have never, ever learned.

Mariellen M– What can they learn from Portal/Portal 2? Physics (Newtonian and non-Newtonian), problem solving, spatial skills, critical thinking, fine and gross motor development, plot development and character writing, math, chemistry, biology, and how to make awesome gloves (which involves its own set of new skills and knowledge).

What can they learn from Bridezillas? Conflict resolution, emotional management, moderation vs. excess, frugality vs. spendthriftiness, fashion design, party planning and event management and coordination, what sort of qualities to look for in a friend/mate, and more.

Aadel B– Spongebob led to an interest in Texas, geography, the science of “breathing” underwater, and if jellyfish really made jelly.

Elizabeth H– I have to agree with Pam Clark. I will say that I was really surprised how much history my ds has learned from Assassin’s Creed. Until then, I didn’t realize how detailed some of the games they play are. I haven’t really played with him since we played Cool Boarders 3 back in the day.

Another interesting one, since it has crossed over into so many other things, is how Percy Jackson piqued dd’s interest in the ancients. She’s studied both the Greeks and Romans in depth, loves Aesop’s Fables, the myths, Illiad and the Odyssey. What’s cool is to see how it started with Percy, went to real history and mythology, which has led to her seeing how Greek and Roman mythology is used in modern science fiction and fantasy, and especially how both played into the Hunger Games series. She’s still not too keen on that guy Euclid, though…

Cathi D– Oh, well, you know… Euclid was kind of a nerd compared to Percy and Hercules…

Heather Y– Yes, the Percy Jackson series is what led my then 10 year old to read the comic book version of The Odyssey, among other things.

Fantasy fiction novels in general. My middle child is like me and loves to read. She is a fount of random information, and random ideas from all the books she has read. My own understanding of math, history, science, mythology and fairy tale, and so on, is a result of all the fiction reading I do. She is the same way. (The current young adult fantasy I am reading is all about geometry, in a magical way which makes it palatable for me because not keen on it as a science.) I can’t stand reading real life stories because too often they hurt my heart and make me depressed. Throw a tiny bit of magic/fantasy in there and suddenly I can cope with it because it isn’t real and glean so much about the real world from the stories.

Pam C– Due to this thread I want to learn Esperanto. I am going to share about it to dd15 who has a list of languages she wnats to learn.

Heather Y– Talk of Esperanto always makes me think of Red Dwarf- Rimmer always trying to learn Esperanto and everyone else learning it because the is always listening to tapes, but he never does: “Rimmer: Oh yeah? Well, as the Esperanto would say, “Bonvoro alsendi la pordiston, lausajne estas rano en mia bideo!” And I think we all know what that means.
Holly: Yes, it means, “Could you send for the hall porter, there appears to be a frog in my bidet.””

Monica B– SpongeBob Squarepants. Bless his wacky heart. My kids love SB. Their first cousins love SB. What do cousins talk about when stuck at the kid table for Christmas Dinner, especially cousins being raised radically different from each other? Good, ole wacky SpongeBob and lots of quotes from the show. What have my kids learned in the traditional sense subject wise? I have no idea. Maybe something about science and ocean life? Maybe nothing academic? But I do know with SpongeBob they have a cultural touchstone that they can use in social situations with their peers.

Donna M–Littlest Pet Shop animals and My Little Ponies. DD11 writes her own scripts, designs/constructs the backgrounds and films videos in which she does all the voices. Then she edits the video, adds title/credits and uploads to YouTube.

Gail P– Mariellen I don’t know if they learn conflict resolution from bridzillas… At least none I’ve seen…unless you watch the show and do the opposite that show makes me wonder how they got engaged at all!

Mariellen M– You put your finger on it Gail. They watch and talk about what went wrong and what could have been done better. And yes the girls often wonder how the people on the show got engaged. It’s also spurred many conversations about what each thinks it’s important to look for in a mate.

Vanessa P– I’ll use an example from a few years back when we first started officially unschooling and let go of screen time limits. My oldest son was about 5 at the time and he absolutely loved Free Willy and would watch all of the Free Willy movies over and over. This led to a very deep interest in whales, which then led to a deep interest in all sea life. We proceeded to watch many documentaries on whales and sea life, buy books, and do research. He can tell you more facts about whales than anyone I know. Over the last few years this has developed into a love of animal facts for him and my second son, and also got him interested in survival skills. He also loves learning about weather and anything in nature, but the real kickstarter to all of this came through us letting him watch Free Willy to his little heart’s content.

Heather Y– Animal Crossing, My Sims, and Harvest Moon (Wii games in general really but those ones specifically): My oldest was a late reader due to severe dyslexia plus some neurological stuff that made her have general high stress all the time. She loved playing these games but couldn’t read so we would read them for her, or her sister would , who loved watching and loved reading. So they would make up stories while they played together or Es would just read what she needed as she played. After a while she stopped needing so much help until finally she stopped asking for help at all. Basically those games taught her to read.

They also lead to: knowledge of all sorts of fish and bugs- instant recognition, even in the real world (Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon). Interest in dinosaurs and dinosaur bones (Animal Crossing). Understanding of economy, saving, stock market, spending, loans, working to pay off loans, value of different items being dependent on need and quality (Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon), interest in constellations and how they got named (Animal Crossing), interest in taking care of animals, what is accurate in game and what isn’t (Harvest Moon), ability to do things on a schedule (Harvest Moon), tracking needs, goals, planning ahead (Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing to a lesser degree), spread sheets, research, reading guides on paper and online (Harvest Moon and to lesser degree Animal Crossing.)

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