I do not play computer games. Not, however, because I don't think they are valuable or useful -- my personal aversion is based solely on my extreme sensitivity to visual and auditory stimuli. Beyond that, to be completely honest, they simply frustrate the hell out of me because of my supreme lack of coordination and inability to follow instructions. The narrative about those issues will have to wait for another blog post.
Minecraft is one game that has taken the computer gaming world by storm, especially the school age crowd. As far as I can tell, from my exceedingly limited experience (five minutes) of actually playing the game, it is, in essence, a game of building up or tearing down a world.
To that end, I believe that Minecraft and its objectives are a very useful way to talk about several heart-breaking stories that I have listened to recently.
The central consequence of every one of these tales is that a child was emotionally (and one, physically) harmed because of the actions or inactions of other people (usually adults) who were unhappy with the conduct of these children. (I will not detail them all here. You have probably all heard some fairly sad stories as well.)
I will, however, argue -- the only way to help someone make positive changes in their lives, is to build them up, cheer them on, encourage them, and offer them choices, guidance and support, not to tear them down and belittle them!
Making someone feel bad does not inspire them to alter their behavior, it only increases their pain, and, similar to Minecraft, destroys their world.
I recently saw a meme, from Higher Perspectives, based on a group of people in South Africa, that explains this concept beautifully.
In short, when a member of the village misbehaves or acts inappropriately, the elders bring them into the center of the village and the other inhabitants surround him/her listing all the beautiful things about that person and heaping words of praise, celebration, and kindness on them as well. Their core belief is that with love and encouragement the tribe member will make choices that are positive for themselves and for the others in the village. This is completely on par with the concept of Ubuntu that many Africans subscribe to.
Amazing! In their world punishment does not exist, because they understand the detrimental and irrevocable consequences on the recipient.
And, this is just one more example of how Western Civilization is not nearly as “civilized” as the enlightened indigenous cultures around the world.
I work with many children who have experienced punishment, belittlement, judgmental assessments, fear tactics, and who have been penalized for simply being themselves. In their impressionable minds, all those negative interactions add up to one huge problem that seems insurmountable and impossible to change -- they understand on a very profound level that they are broken and that there is something unalterably wrong with them.
People often ask what my role is at Deep Root Center if I am not fulfilling many of the functions of a teacher in the traditional system. My answer is incredibly unsophisticated. Through my actions and words, I build kids up. I appreciate them. I love them. I celebrate their accomplishments. I listen to their stories and ideas. I give them opportunities to do amazing work. I support them to be their best, true selves and together we are tearing down the personal walls of misconceptions and untruths that surround each of them to build an internal environment of self-love and respect.
Simply (and very often, subtly) put, I am helping my students to understand that they are each a beautiful human being with an abundance of gifts to offer the world.
Our student members are currently on break, celebrating the holidays with their families, until January 4th. Maria will be in and out of the DRC facilities during that time. If you would like to make an appointment, please contact her.
The DRC year end funding appeal is still in high gear. Keep those donations rolling in! If your envelope is postmarked by midnight, December 31 your contribution to Deep Root Center will count towards your 2015 tax year. You can easily donate via our Paypal button on the website, as well.
Thank you to everyone who has cheered us on financially, with your insights and suggestions, as well as your energy. We attribute DRC's astounding growth this past year to our amazingly supportive community.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy, peace-filled holiday season.
Looking forward to a bright 2016 filled with infinite possibilities for us all.