Learning without judging

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Learning without judging

Annie Regan

Last night I watched a Transformers movie. 

Liam and Tony were watching it and I was half paying attention and half doing other things (which is the way I watch most TV), and I was getting tired and sat down for a few minutes and watched a bit of the movie without distraction. I really really loved it. 

I had planned to go to bed as soon as I could and to read my book – instead I moved to the couch and watched the rest of the movie with Tony and Liam. It was great to spend that time with them and discuss the movie and Transformers and other things, and it was also really cool watching the movie. 

Transformers is something that until a few years ago I would have said ‘No’ to the kids watching and wouldn’t have wanted to watch myself either. I don’t even know why I was against so many movies and TV shows and characters. Some of it was about violence, sure, or concepts I didn’t want the kids to see. Some of it was about commercialism, not wanting to expose the kids to the popular shows because I felt, I think, that they had no inherent value, they were just popular because some marketing person had decided they would be and everyone had blindly followed along and watched the shows and bought all the merchandise. I wasn’t interested in watching (or even reading) the popular stuff myself – I made my own choices – although I mainly made choices based on what I liked, within the range of things that weren’t really popular. It never occurred to me that some of these shows were popular because they were enjoyable! 

I am so grateful to have discovered and followed this unschooling lifestyle that we have chosen – by opening up and allowing the kids to choose what they watch (and to truly choose, from all options, not just from the options that I have deemed to be ok), we have an environment where the kids have discovered so many wonderful TV shows and movies and books and games, and had SO much enjoyment – and I have as well. There is so much that we all would have missed out on if I had continued to control our viewing and reading. I’ve discovered that Barbie movies are fun and funny and beautiful and have great story lines and lots of morals. I’ve discovered that Ben 10 is a fairly typical young (and then teenage) boy who is constantly struggling with his duty to save the world (I was SO anti-Ben 10, and now that I’ve watched it, I really can’t understand why). 

It’s been a great lesson for me, that judging something before seeing or trying it, is really unfair and doesn’t really make any sense. Even without thinking about the kids, my world is so expanded and happier now that I am open to trying things without pre-judging them. And for the kids – it’s so much better that they can try things for themselves and make their own choices. 

There’s stuff that they watch that I don’t like – which doesn’t matter, because they like it. I watch enough so that I can talk about it with them, and can usually find bits that I can appreciate. I’m also happy to listen to them talk about it even if I’m not a fan. There are TV shows that one or another of them don’t like, so they do something else if the others are watching it. I’ve really come to realise that there is some value in every show, the kids pick out the bits they like and don’t dismiss the whole show because of an aspect they don’t like – a great skill to have in life. They are much better than me at deciding in the moment if something is worth doing despite the downsides, or whether they’ll give it a miss this time. 

I’ve also discovered that amassing knowledge about anything, and learning bits and pieces about pop culture makes me very happy. I love that we can discuss the worlds of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in great depth. And at first I was restricting my knowledge to just the things I was really interested in, and I didn’t value knowledge about other worlds. Now I am happy to soak it all in, and I really love that the kids know so much about so many things. All knowledge is valuable and it all links in to other things – I’ve seen time and again how knowing something about, say, Pokemon, helps a real concept to suddenly make sense. 

Last night Amelie astounded me by telling me which stone was used for each of the evolutions of Eevee (a Pokemon character) – there was a picture of each of Eevee’s evolutions, and without reading or any other clues, she told me which stone was needed for each one.) I don’t know how or when she learned that information, she has picked it up through watching and playing and talking about Pokemon. That particular knowledge helps her when she plays the games, or talks to others about Pokemon – and it also shows that she has the ability to effortlessly learn a whole series of reactions 

or relationships – when she comes across that kind of relationship in maths or chemistry or anywhere, she won’t be thinking ‘oh no I have to memorise all this stuff’ – she will simply learn it as she discovers it and then be able to use her knowledge when she needs it. 

Last night I learnt lots about Transformers. I learnt that they all have distinct personalities. I learnt that some are good (Autobots) and some are bad (Decepticons) – and that some have switched sides. I learnt that they can be kind and thoughtful, and that they can have their feelings hurt. I learnt that people can ride inside them when they are in their car or truck form. I did multiple searches on the internet while I was watching and learnt the names of the Transformers in the movie, and a bit of their back story, and followed trails of some of the actors in the movie and found out which other movies they were in etc. As always, once I started taking in new information it led to more and more links 

I am amazed every time that learning can be so easy and enjoyable, and I am so excited that my kids know that already and spend their days learning happily and easily and without pre-judgement. 

From Otherways 163

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