Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dwarves... Who would have thought?

Dwarves .... (Yes, it's a weird word that can be spelt dwarfs or dwarves but I'll be using the classic way popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien) =)


Back in 2006, after months, near a year of deschooling (even though I was not aware that's what it was called at the time), I was still trying to figure out just how I was to go about educating my youngest. See, back in November of 2005, when I saw first hand the abuse he was enduring in a private Christian school, I had had enough and it was quite obvious that my son had had far more then enough and he had just turned 8! At that point, I realized that no matter what I did, there was no way it could be worse then what he was suffering at the hands of the so called educational authorities. So with right on my side, I withdrew him from school and registered him as a homeschooler.

I had demanded the Abeka books I had paid for and had set up homeschooling in the only image that I knew. It didn't take long to realize that homeschooling with one and classroom schooling with 20 to 30 students were in no way going to work the same way so I had to let go of my preconceived ideas and find a new path. First I went about checking out the few links that my county homeschooling office supplied and I visited the local library and found very few books on the topic. I wasn't very happy about this great lack of information so I started Googling. Googling wasn't turning up much and I started getting frustrated at this seemingly lack of information! (I later learned it was my lack of knowing keywords) I then stumbled on Yahoo Groups! What a find!

I found Gifted Homeschoolers. I found Homeschooling Mensa! I found Homeschooling Boys!! I started joining as many groups as I could find that seemed to have any information that might be useful! Then I found the mother load! I discovered U N S C H O O L I N G !!!!

Wait...what does this have to do with DWARVES?!?!?!

Ummm...yeah...This post was supposed to be about those short stocky fellas....

Dwarves... Long ago, in another state, I met my first dwarf...

Ooops... Wrong tangent...

He, he, he....

So while reading and reading and researching, I started exploring all the great information that all these wonderful ladies in the many homeschooling forums went about sharing. One day, someone shared a link to Dwarf Fortress and highly recommended it. With a motto of 'Losing is Fun!' how could they be wrong? Note: They weren't.

I pulled open the link which I had only given a cursory glance, and left it to my then eight year old to read over to see if he might be interested in downloading the game. Thank goodness, I had a reader! I was under the impression at the time, that this was simply a computer generated 2D game! I was so wrong! Well, it IS a 2D game without all the fancy graphics, but it is so much more! Here's a recent interview with Dwarf Fortress Developer Tarn Adams which is very enlightening or at least it was to me. He he.

So what I hadn't realized oh way back a few years ago was:

A. This would become the longest lasting game my son has played to date and he is still currently exploring and discovering more all the time.

B. This game would lead to all sorts of learning from how magma flows to how an Archimedes' screw works.

C. This game lets you learn how ridiculous a game designer can be when they design dwarf eating carp's into their design. (Yes, this silliness lead to an eight year old learning all he could about carps and whether or not they had any potential to be dwarf (or man) eaters in real life.

D. This game lead to downloading Python, "a powerful dynamic programming language".

E. This game lead to learning that even games designed to be solo player can become a cooperative and hysterical adventure. See Boatmurdered. So named by a random name generator as there are no 'boats' deep inside a mountain fortress. (Caution: Not all players have the best language skills.)

So there you have it! Dwarves! Those short, crazy, mushroom eating, beer guzzling, elephant taming (don't ask), insanely long lived mountain loving miners and craftmens, have lead to a most entertaining and educational journey. One I certainly hadn't foreseen when I first pulled up that link to a (so I thought) simple game. I caution you though, before you open the link, this game has been known to be highly addictive to the curious geek. It will lead to learning and exploring beyond basic fortress building, and stock piling. This game looks innocent enough, but don't be deceived! It can lead into wanting to learn computer languages and programming skills, so be careful! If you aren't of the mind to venture out in what appears as a simple adventure, but will lead you far deeper then you thought to go, DON'T DOWNLOAD IT!

He he he... You've been WARNED!!!

1 comment:

jugglingpaynes said...

Vicki, I love how you came about all this so naturally. I feel like it took me much longer to feel comfortable with our unschooliness. You are my unschooling mentor!

Peace and Laughter,