Lure of violence used as lesson

May 24, 1999|By Bonnie Scott | Bonnie Scott,Knight Ridder/Tribune

My distaste for Power Rangers has resulted in my son becoming a history buff. Here's how:

My son was 3 years old when he started doing "bang bang gotchas" with pointed finger. I hated it and was determined to stop it. The television was turned off, and violent games and toys forbidden.

This worked for a while. As Willy got older he asked why he couldn't pretend to play with guns. I explained that I am his mom and that it is my job to teach him values and this was how I was going to do it. He accepted that for a time.

Then, my too-clever child found a way around mom. If violent activities had a historical base, I would acquiesce. I have a weakness for history and my son exploited that opening. Cowboys, knights and soldiers are allowed in my house if placed in proper historical setting.

Willy has discovered that I will provide computer games with action in them if the action is historically accurate. Willy learns about cowboys and Indians from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy using "Native American People of the Plains" (Rainbow Educational Media). He can read about famous warriors, learn about daily life a century ago and see film clips of dances.

Willy likes to journey through historical ages using DK Multimedia's "My First Amazing History Explorer." He can visit Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. As he travels he collects clues and items to help him free a captured professor.

Exploring history has prompted Willy to build a castle using "Crayola 3D Castle Creator" (IBM Corp). By combining towers, fences, gardens and keeps, he has learned about architecture, construction and history. Best of all, he can tour his creation once it is complete.

Willy is most anxious to be 12 so he can learn to be a World War I fighting pilot using "Red Baron 3D" (Sierra Online). This program lets players go on search-and-destroy missions. Flying takes agility, but the dogfights are intriguing.

I can't recommend my method as a means for teaching kids to love history, but it worked in my house.

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