Boys and Toys…

So tonight, I opened the door to my apartment at 8:15 pm or so. I was supposed to drive to shul (temple/synagogue) and take the Jewish kids to Friday night services, but no one wanted to go. Of course not. It’s Yom Kippur, so naturally no one wanted to go. (No, that doesn’t really make much sense to me. I’m being slightly sarcastic here).

So I had a couple of hours free to read and write, and then I opened my door. Within about ten minutes I was invaded. I got embroiled in a game of chess, three students started playing this game about the Neolithic Era called Clans, another group was playing Fluxx, and then one kid was playing my guitar, another kid was playing my hammered dulcimer, and another kid was playing my fretted dulcimer. Out in the hall, the Mexican students were hanging around, talking. I made some herbal tea, and everyone enjoyed that, too.

Every one of the fifteen kids on both floors was hanging around within shouting distance of my apartment. No one in the building was watching television. They were all playing games, watching games, playing musical instruments, talking about games or music, and generally behaving like rats in a highly stimulating enclosure.

Sometime back in the 1970s, these biologists were studying animal psychology. If you put a bunch of rats into small cages with nothing to do, eventually they start eating each other. Before they start eating each other, though, they become sullen, uncooperative, difficult to manage, and their intellect drops off steeply. On the other hand, if you put rats into large cages with things to look at, play with, and do, the rats become social, friendly, cooperative (both with their human handlers and each other), and (presumably) more intelligent.

By opening my apartment to the kids on my dorm, I’m enlarging their enclosure, and creating a more stimulating environment. The toys I already have are basically energizing and directing the talents of these kids. I hadn’t thought about it this way before, though I’ve made the rat-analogy before, but tonight basically proved it to me — if I want my kids to be social, energized, and intelligent, I have to create a social, energized, and intelligent environment in which they can operate.

It’s remarkable what a few musical instruments, a few games, and some cool background music can do.

16 comments

  1. This quotation

    They were all playing games, watching games, playing musical instruments, talking about games or music, and generally behaving like rats in a highly stimulating enclosure.

    I love this out of context 🙂

  2. This quotation

    They were all playing games, watching games, playing musical instruments, talking about games or music, and generally behaving like rats in a highly stimulating enclosure.

    I love this out of context 🙂

  3. I know

    I know this is not a post about Yom Kippur, but this is a comment about it.

    My Ex, who is a Jewish Educator, notes that most marginally observant Jewish people only observe the sad holy days and don’t attend the fun ones like Purim and Simchat Torah. She’s right. This leads many young Jews to antithesis with the faith their parents bore them into. And bore into them, for that matter.

    So in honor of my Ex, who is a lovely human being (only that I did not wish to spend the rest of my days with her for we were walking different paths), and an intelligent woman, I point this out, for any marginally observant Jews who may be reading, that if they go to one event at temple per year, if it’s not a sabbath service, it should be Purim, which is fun. And if they go to two, it should be Purim and YK, for balance.

    I do like the way the Jews handle “atonement” — you can’t get forgiveness for transgresses between people from God. You have to get forgiveness from the transgressee directly. Changes everything, doesn’t it.

  4. I know

    I know this is not a post about Yom Kippur, but this is a comment about it.

    My Ex, who is a Jewish Educator, notes that most marginally observant Jewish people only observe the sad holy days and don’t attend the fun ones like Purim and Simchat Torah. She’s right. This leads many young Jews to antithesis with the faith their parents bore them into. And bore into them, for that matter.

    So in honor of my Ex, who is a lovely human being (only that I did not wish to spend the rest of my days with her for we were walking different paths), and an intelligent woman, I point this out, for any marginally observant Jews who may be reading, that if they go to one event at temple per year, if it’s not a sabbath service, it should be Purim, which is fun. And if they go to two, it should be Purim and YK, for balance.

    I do like the way the Jews handle “atonement” — you can’t get forgiveness for transgresses between people from God. You have to get forgiveness from the transgressee directly. Changes everything, doesn’t it.

  5. Hogwarts, NIHM… does it really matter?

    Why not learn from both institutions, and make this one where I work…Better than either of them?

    Today was hard, tho… see this evening’s entry.

    • Hogwarts, NIHM… does it really matter?

      Why not learn from both institutions, and make this one where I work…Better than either of them?

      Today was hard, tho… see this evening’s entry.

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