Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Raising a Child Like You Make an RPG Character

When you are playing a tabletop role playing game, the first thing you do is make, or stat out, your character. This generally involves selecting skills, talent, and equipment for your character, which you choose based on the challenges that you anticipate the character will face.

Traveller, a system renouned
for its highly involved
and customizable character
creation system.
The natural reaction to a title such as this is that an RPG is a game and raising a child is serious. You can't think like you would in a game for real life! Really? What is a game, but a simulation for real life? Chess was most likely invented and was commonly used to give children an understanding of strategy, necessary risk, and tradeoffs.

Most parents do their best to make sure their children are ready for the world. They teach them manners, boost their self esteem, push them to do well in school, but too often they fail. Many children are growing up to find themselves in the adult world completely unprepared for the challenges that they face. Many cannot balance a checkbook, read a bus schedule, or go to a job interview without embarrassing themselves.

If we assume that most parents are fairly well educated people who are doing their best to prepare their children, how do their children end up so ill-prepared. I would suggest it is a lack of strategic thinking, born of thinking that their job is to provide encouragement and support while the school system will provide the hard skills that the child will need in the world. Moreover, if a parent does try to set their own curriculum of things that they think their child should know, they could be seen as "overprograming" or "stifling creativity." This is partly because school makes learning so unpleasant that a child doesn't want to come home and do more things they don't want to do.

I intend to approach this differently. Looking back on my life, I can see skills and knowledge that I learned later in my 20s, which I would have been much better off to have received earlier. Using this experience of my own and my best projections of what a child coming of age in 2032 will need to succeed, I will prepare the Koalid with a variety of skills.

When statting out an RPG character, one usually selects a good mix of basic skills so the character can do well on her own with a few specializations to give the character unique value to the party. The strategy here is similar. She will be taught a variety of basic skills: math, financial literacy, balancing a checkbook and managing a bank account, cooking, cleaning, manners for polite society, proper carriage, situational awareness, basic self defense technique, persuasive skills, etc.

The more specific skills would be based on her interests, but whatever those interests are, there are common things that can be taught to develop those interests. For example, selecting a project, planning it, and following through. If she takes and interest in flower arranging, then she will be encouraged to learn about all kinds of flowers, gardening and other related skills, then put those skills to practice by actually making arrangements. No matter what the subject she pursues, learning to follow start and follow through a major project will give her confidence that she can succeed and help her to understand what working for a goal really means.

Whether she decides to be a flower arranger or a bounty hunter,
the Koalid will be equipped with the skills and worldview
to allow her to be successful.
 My goal is that in August of 2032, when the Koalid is ready to go out into the world, she will be prepared for success. Whatever she decides to do, she will have a suite of basic skills to stay safe, assess and handle challenges, make a plan and execute it to success, all with ethics and moral integrity. This means adopting a mindset more of trainer and coach than protector. It does not one bit of good to keep her safe from the world until she is 18 if I then dump her out into it completely unprepared. While others her age are still trying to figure out what a work ethic is and wondering why they have already ruined their credit, she will be able to pursue whatever goals she seeks to follow.

But Michael, you might object, in this kind of strategy, the four years before she goes into the world would be the most vital in preparing her, but that's adolescence, the time when a child pulls away from a parent!

I'll address that extremely valid point in Thursday's Koalid post.

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