Thursday, November 15, 2007
Hacking the "Non-Educational" Obsessions
I live in the shadow of giant robots. After years of carefully screening everything our kids watched, bought, or read, Transformers slipped in under the cloak of The Fight between Good and Evil. Well, it is about the fight between good and evil and the good guys win by being good and the bad guys lose because, well, they're bad.
It's not bad, really, it's just that the kids will live and breathe it to the extent we will allow. It would be great if they were this into Lord of the Rings, or Little House on the Prairie, or Ancient Egypt, or learning Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
After waiting a year or so for the obsession to die down or mutate into something "educational," I decided to hack into it. We were lagging in the math department due to pregnancy/new baby stuff so, over the summer I became: OPTIMATH PRIME!! (For the blissfully ignorant, Optimus Prime is the leader of the good guy Autobots). Mxyl was Sumblebee (Bumblebee) and Klenda was R squared (Arcee). They saved planets by doing long division! They conquered Decepticons by reducing fractions. They all did word problems involving how many blasts it would take to knock out (X) bad guys if each bad guy took (Y) blasts to knock out, and how far a sentry would walk around a (regular polygon) building if the side was (X) meters. Remarkable progress!
I branched out into spelling: Bumblebee's Spelling Bee was a hit. How about writing? Dictation or copywork or creative writing about giant robots? Best enthusiasm and longest writing ever!
I have to admit, Transformers did 2 great educational things on their own: 1 my kids now have spatial relationship skills which surpass my own (my friend, Bill, a brilliant engineer, is the only adult I know who can figure out how the toys transform) and 2, drawing incredibly detailed giant robots has done wonders for their art skills. I guess you could also consider the allowance-to-Transformer-toy calculations as a math and budgeting benefit.
Incidentally, I in no way endorse the recent Transformer Movie. My kids will not be allowed to watch it. The people involved should be ashamed at what they did to a movie that should have been for kids.