Last night, Hannah was talking to me about day in class. For those who don't know, Hannah is my 11-year-old daughter, and she's currently in her last year of elementary school. Hannah showed me a recent assignment which involved distinguishing between fact and opinion. I was surprised, as this topic was one they discussed in second grade and third grade. Apparently, the school is trying to hammer this point home as the students are having difficulty with the concept. The assignment included such sentences as, "I don't like the game of checkers," and compared it to "Checkers is a bad game." Hannah got an A on the assignment, and she assured me that it was easy. But I'm not so sure how well I would do on that assignment.
I think part of the reason that the students seem to be struggling with these concepts has to do with the fact that most adults are terrible examples when it comes to this concept. Everything from food to sports to politics, we throw aside the concept of opinion and set down our views as cast iron fact. The Titans are a terrible football team. Steak is the best food. All Democrats are freeloaders. We trumpet these opinions wrapped in a cloak of factual certainty, and wonder why our children get foggy on the difference.
This site is more than just a collection of gamers. We are supposed to be a collection of mature, thoughtful individuals with jobs and responsibilities. We're supposed to be aware that a world exists outside the digital playgrounds we spend time romping around, and we're supposed to have perspective. But when it comes to our games, we begin to behave just like children. At the end of the day, is there that big a difference between my nephew loudly insisting that the Lemony Snicket books are stupid and that his brother is dumb for liking them, and how we behave with our games?
I lied earlier. I know how I'd do on Hannah's assignment: I'd fail. Miserably. I'm an awful example. Not twenty minutes after we had this discussion, Hannah listened to me tell her mother that people were being spoiled brats about SimCity. I said that it was a good game, and they were whining about something that wasn't that important. I explained that the game was brilliant, and people just couldn't quit pouting long enough to see it. And I didn't even think about what I was saying, and the fact that I'd just told a child I'm responsible for raising that behavior was rude and inconsiderate.
While washing the dishes, Hannah put on her One Direction CD. Her teenage sister came in, and rolled her eyes. I started to admonish Emily, but Hannah just shrugged, saying, "It's okay. I like them, she doesn't. I'll put in my headphones."
Would we have done the same?