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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Monday, April 27, 2009

Turn off tv week...

A couple of years ago I wrote about "turn off school week" as my rant about the whole idea of "turn off tv week". This time? I'll share a post from one of my local lists, where there has been a discussion about this topic for a few days. The parts I quote are from other participants in the discussion so I'll leave them anonymous as they may not wish to be a part of this blog post.:)


~~ Reading engages your brain, television does not.~~

REALLY? Your brain is engaged if your alive, even when
you're asleep. Tell my kids their brains aren't "engaged"
while they're fascinated with some new bit of
information they just picked up from something
we watched and discuss it ad nauseam. Or decide to
research if further. Or laugh hysterically because it was
entertaining. Laughing engages the brain in terrific ways.
Very healing too.

If you watch a play, or a dance, is it really engaging the
brain in a completely different way than watching those
same activities on tv? Many activities engage alpha-waves
but are not seen as inherently harmful. Heck, what does
meditation do? Takes the brain BELOW alpha states
into theta a lot of the time. Is that harmful? Of course not.

~~Knitting uses fine motor skills as well as engaging your brain.~~

Knitting on anything other than a small loom frustrates
me and is NOT fun for me. Am I going to receive some
benefit from doing an activity I don't enjoy over
watching what I love and DO enjoy? Am I missing out
on something if I'm bonding with my dh and family...laughing,
taking and enjoying something together? Watching tv
doesn't stop you from using fine motor skills during other
activities. Heck, my kids seem to have other things going
on while they're watching tv many times. It's a very "engaged"
state AND they're using fine and large motor skills.

~~This is not just my opinion, but studies have been done
on brain waves while watching TV and while reading and
the more TV you watch the faster your brain
slips into a receptive alpha wave state.~~

The brain wave patterns are:

Beta; alert and active
Alpha; relaxed/reflecting
Theta; drowsy/ideating
Delta; states of sleep, both dreaming and
deep non-dreaming sleep.

SO, things like freeway driving or running often put a
person into theta waves. It is common to have a flow
of ideas during theta. Reflection and meditation commonly
happen during alpha wave patterns. The brain operates
with all of these brainwaves present in varying amounts
all day long. An Alpha state is not a
negative or unhealthy thing.

~~The next instance is specific to commercial TV and that
is that 75% of commercial TV advertising is paid for by the
100 largest corporations in North America. So you get in a
receptive alpha state and then get bombarded by
commercials to buy stuff.~~

We're intelligent human beings who figured this out and
aren't out buying everything we see. My children are also
intelligent human beings with whom I discuss a lot of this
stuff and are capable of sorting it all out as they grow and learn,
just like I did. Just because a company pays for advertising it does
not automatically equal "bad", once again. We've learned a LOT
from commercials, when we choose to watch them. Mostly, we
like to analyze how effective it is and how creative they were
with their time. Lots of great conversations there.

~~Non commercial TV and movies are at least less
concerned with trying to get you to buy stuff. think
product placement in movies if you don't think they are
trying to sell stuff too.~~

Trying to sell stuff is the job of most any business.
I'm not an automaton that can't choose. Again, we
love to analyze that use of placement.

~~ However, in some families and I am not talking
about anyone on the list, every family member has
their own tv and they spend their time in different
rooms with little or no interaction and since they
aren't even watching the same shows it isn't much
of a chance to bond. ~~

Yes, but I assume the topic of discussion is for the
people on this list, not just the average American family.
A child who is free to choose and connected to
their parents are going to act very different from a
child trying to escape school and/or use tv as an escape route.

Having separate activities at the same time is not usually
viewed as a negative in a family, unless it's about tv. Why?
Why is Mom on the computer and Dad doing some business
and one kid making art and another maybe playing an instrument
perfectly acceptable but as soon as people want to watch
different shows in different rooms it's BAD?

We spend a LOT of our tv time together, but apart
is ok too!! I think families spending a lot of time
together in joy are going to be just fine if they watch
separate tv. The families that aren't spending enough
time together don't need to focus on getting rid of something
(like tv), they need to focus on ADDING some things to their
lives that bring them together. Or use tv as a chance to
connect and bond..yes. But the issue there is relationships
and priorities, not tv. It's just one tool, it's not that powerful.

(addendum: I do think families
might want to get rid of some school time as that REALLY
takes away from family time)

> TV rots the senses in the head!
> It kills the imagination dead!
> It clogs and clutters up the mind!
> It makes a child so dull and blind.
> He can no longer understand a fantasy,
> A fairyland!
> His brain becomes as soft as cheese!
> His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
> An excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
> By Roald Dahl, 1964

Anyone who really believes the above, should get rid
of their tv all together. It's nonsense though. It's the
authors personal views coming through in his
story. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

But examine that. My children all have tv's in
their rooms. Not one of them thinks it better or
more enticing than any other activity they might
choose. Not one of them is lacking in imagination,
not one of them is "dull", they are bright and interesting
and creative. How is this possible? Because tv doesn't
have that much power unless we give it that power.
Because it's just another thing we enjoy in our lives
and another way we learn.

I keep thinking about that term "engaged" and I think
of all the amazing things we've learned from television.
Not only have we learned/enjoyed many things directly,
but the after effects of "hey Mom, remember that _________,
can you look it up on google?" which could lead to
months of discussion/discovery (or not) and quite often
sparks connections in a million directions I could not have

Just a couple nights ago, we watched this "lost tapes" show
on Animal Planet and were quite skeptical about some of
the information they seemed to be presenting as "facts".
After researching it we discovered it is completely fictional
(they call it "docu-fiction") being presented in a documentary style.
How annoying! But what a great series of conversations we've
had about falseness and checking your information and the
possibility of strange creatures not discovered yet,
etc..... and the learning just continues.

Think about all the issues that television has the ability
to bring to the forefront. I think of all my co-workers who
found out I have bees and excitedly told me about the
Discovery show they watched about bees and how importan
bees are to the environment and our food supply etc...
I would much rather watch a tv show about another country
than just read about it! The sights and sounds of
another culture can be brought to life with television...
in a way other media just can't.

I'm not advocating sitting in front of a tv all day.
We are busy, busy with lots of different things but
"turn off tv"? Nah....we turn it off or on when we
choose, all year, living and learning from everything.


The image is of some school-free kids celebrating a birthday one year ago, sans tv.;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life is Good conference

Life is Good takes place next month folks!! I'll be there speaking, hosting some circle chats and making ATC's of course. If you haven't registered yet, get crackin'! The NW is beautiful in May and the conference takes place at the Red Lion right on the massive Columbia river in Vancouver WA.

Mary and Jon Gold host this amazing weekend. You can visit them at their colorful, yummy and joyful coffee shop in Corvallis OR...Sunnyside Up. If that's not possible, you can live vicariously through Mary/Zenmomma's blog.

I'm actually meeting two of my sisters and their kids out there, so that's a really big deal. The cousins haven't seen each other (nor the sisters) in about three years. Far too long.

Heidi will be hosting yoga at the conference and doing one circle chat with me as well. Good times...
Hope to see you there!

I'm mean...

But you already knew that right? :)

The latest comment in the whole "summer unschooling" discussion is this:

"Why do you have to be so mean, Ren? Her blog looks awesome, and I look forward to having the time to read it further."

So now it's mean to disagree. It's mean to state your opinion strongly and discuss how you feel about another idea. Mean, mean, mean.

First of all, if you think someone's blog is awesome, go read there instead of here where the poster is MEAN. I've probably done nothing but add to her blog stats though! If I am expected to quit sharing my opinions and ideas because it's "mean"....so sorry but I'll take the "mean" label.

I started this blog to share MY opinions and ideas...and that's just what I'll do. I really didn't think dissent was "mean". Interesting though.

Off to make some cat stew and trample the neighbors garden and set a few fires...cuz I'm MEAN people. Totally evil. Can't you tell?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick catch up...

....not Ketchup.

And not really. Because I don't have time to tell you all about our very lovely Easter spent with friends, nor do I have time to show you all the cool things I'm learning on Photoshop CS4....but I will tell you that our weather last week went from a warm 70-something day in which we were donig things like this:

...to SNOW the next day, in which we were doing things like this:

...and wondering if summer would just hurry up and GET HERE already!!

I had fun with makeup (as always) and we even had an overnight guest breeze in for a moment.

The talented and spirited Amy Steinberg managed to make a pitstop here and do a bit of catching up.
We had a smidgen of time to sip tea and talk, then she was off the next morning to Boone and then to Columbia for the Lovejoy's house party and concert (which I sadly missed again).

Girl time is goooood. Would somebody give this girl a record deal already?? She rocks!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Genius or procrastinator?

My friend Valerie emailed this fabulous article today; "How to procrastinate like Leonardo da Vinci", along with her take that "unschoolers create da Vinci types".
Inspirational for sure! I've been labeled a procrastinator all my life. I'll just chalk it up to genius now, thank you. The other myth that needs busting is that whole "jack of all trades, master of none" bullshit. As if it's negative to have lots and lots of passions and interests. The renaissance types are often misunderstood. Nice to see the "procrastination" article though. Go read it, you'll be glad you did! Now go get something useful done. Or not.;)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Summer more-schooling

Check out this bizarre idea....SUMMER Unschooling! Really? Doing projects with your kids during summer break is going to be called summer unschooling? Crazy. She's deleting any comments trying to point out what unschooling really is as I left a comment earlier and it's still showing "0" comments. Hmmmmmmm......

First of all, it's really weird to swipe a word that means "no school" and use it in that way. But then to encourage parents to think up projects for their kids to do in summertime, rather than let them actually be FREE for a few months from all the manipulations of "education", well it's the anti-thesis of unschooling in every way.

Use a different term. PLEASE. How confusing for people who really want to learn about getting away from the school system and trusting their child's natural learning process.

***Addendum: My comments are not being deleted, there is some other reason they are not going through. Must be a technical glitch.