The War on Fun

I've been watching the inevitable Christmas toy ads on tv. What really bugs me this year isn't the standard girl/boy separation of toys (ARRRRGHHHH), but the idea that everything that is "fun" also has to be "educational". Where "educational" means "didactic and lame". Board games, video games, coloring books - all trying SO HARD to put spelling and math facts into every childhood activity - and take the "fun" out of it in the process if at all possible.

There's time for learning. It's called school, and homework, and individual pursuit of interests. And there's time for fun. It's called FUN. Leave it alone!

Fun can be inherently educational. Kids love to chase bugs, to read about animals, to build things. All of these things add to the ability to interact and interpret the world. None of them have floating ABC's in the sky, or mandatory counting and sorting.

Why do kids have to be under constant stress to accomplish things, even when they are relaxing? Nobody demands that Dad study geography while he watches football, or that Mom recite US Capitols while reading a novel.

Even the much maligned video games will teach kids a lot - about risk for rewards, about basic economics, about persistence. They shouldn't be written off either.

There's this huge underestimation of kids, imagining that if they don't have something completely didactic they will fall into some kind of mire. That if they play video games, their brains will rot on the vine. Kids are smarter than people think. They don't need this shoved down their throats when they really just want to have fun.

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