Lori, over at Camp Creek Blog | Project Based Homeschooling, recently posted part one of a response to the notion that children need to be made to unplug and go out into nature. She's discussing the issue of scarcity, the idea that there's a shortage of time and some things should be given value over others. Lori argues that it shouldn't be a carrot or a stick (or broccoli vs candy) proposition at all (or say, a scarcity vs abundance), and it's an argument I quite agree with. (Read Part 2, also.
Does it ever work to encourage activity A by denouncing activity B? Books are broccoli and kids need their broccoli so that makes TV and video games candy. Sweet, delicious candy. I’m in my 40s but even I know: candy good, broccoli bad.
The either/or approach focuses on scarcity. The glass is half empty, your day is almost gone. Your free time is as scarce as hen’s teeth. Don’t waste it on things you enjoy! Invest it in these more intellectually valuable pursuits instead!
An entirely different approach would be to present books as candy, the outdoors as candy. Wow. I think I just blew my own mind.
One of the benefits of unschooling is having the time to meet these needs, to enjoy all the gifts that nature and media, literature and other indoor activities offer. It's also easier to see each activity as part of a larger ebb and flow, as Lori tweeted. Unschoolers also appreciate the interconnectedness of each activity, as each inspires the other. There's a reason my kids are currently building whole villages on Minecraft that incorporate green energy and farms.
Lori states this principle so clearly when she says,
Part one of why I don’t worry about my kids’ screen time? Our glass is three-quarters full. We have plenty of time — time to read, time to play, time to hike and camp and garden, time to play video games and watch a movie together.
This concept is one of the most difficult for those who question unschooling to grasp, and it's as she said; we have time. Balance occurs naturally, it isn't forced, dictated or controlled. There is an ebb and flow, indoors our out, it's all equally valued and pursued. We have an abundance of time to learn. And it's all sweet, like candy.