How to Learn Resilience in the Face of Challenge

He’s not homeschooled, but Erik Martin's insights about education are in profound agreement with many homeschoolers' views about schooling, the value of learning outside of school, and the importance of personal agency for meaningful learning to occur. His TedX talk (below), How World of Warcraft Saved Me and My Education, provides a succinct overview and a compelling personal story about how the virtual world of Azeroth proved to be far more healing and personally empowering than the real world of school was for Eric.

If you've had nagging doubts and comments from family members that your child is spending too much time in front of the game console, this video could give you a few more days pause before you pull the plug. 17-year-old Erik, in 2013, could be channeling John Holt with comments such as this:

With the exception of a few exceptional teachers, school at large operates counter to the interests of children. In school, we’re not taught to overcome a challenge, we’re taught to fear the prospect of failure.

In How Children Fail (1964) John Holt wrote in the chapter "Fear and Failure":

I am horrified to realize how much I myself use fear and anxiety as instruments of control. I think, or at least hope, that the kids in my class are somewhat more free of fear than they have been in previous classes, or than most children are in most classes. I try to use a minimum of controls and pressures. Still, the work must be done—mustn't it?—and there must be some limits to what they can be allowed to do in class, and the methods I use for getting work done and controlling the behavior rest ultimately on fear, fear of getting in wrong with me, or the school, or their parents.

Technologies and political attitudes may have changed, but the essential message of schooling remains the same today for Erik as it was for Holt's students in 1964: "You are being judged and found to be deficient." Erik's story shows us there is more to education and life than going to school and that children, like adults, learn patience and self-discipline by using second chances. It is fascinating to hear how Erik ties the value of failure and the need for second chances in life and learning to a well-reasoned, powerful defense of video gaming in his talk.