Student as teacher

Student as teacher

Mostly following an “unschooling” strategy as far as the home education of my four children…I struggle sometimes with feeling that they really need to learn a little more geography, or history of the united States, or something that I can tell the school district in quarterly reports that could be called science.

I was really feeling this pressure one day, and starting to paw through an assortment of history books on our homeschooling shelf, when my son, who is 14, and spends an inordinate amount of time on the internet, asked, ” Do you want me to show you this series of documentaries on Chernobyl?” I looked at his younger sister, and she asked, ” What is Chernobyl?” So, already, we had our teachable moment! We all three made ourselves comfy on the sofa, my son got the computer connected to the large screen monitor in front of the sofa, and we watched most of the series in one afternoon. It is an amazing documentary. (Chernobyl incident Part 1 By Keiluko) It details the initial disaaster, the lack of transparency concerning the disaster, and then the various efforts in the ensuing months to try to mop up the disaster. Especially thought-provoking, was the national concept promoted by the Ukrainian and Soviet government, that the effort to clean up the disaster was akin to a war, a war in which patriots could feel compelled to give their life if need be. They were enlisted to run out with tiny shovels to scoop radioactive material from the roof of the reactor building. More than 45 seconds on the roof put the shovelers at risk of their lives through excess exposure to radiation.

This particularly informative social studies session reminded me of several things; one: that my son is not just watching cartoons the entire time he is on the internet, 2: that lessons can come from unexpected sources, 3: that unschooling has great moments.

So, the greatness of that moment has to sustain me through the less great moments like when I realize that my daughter has posted 30 messages about horses on facebook in one afternoon, or that my son is watching his 3rd movie in the same afternoon. And that neither of them has washed the dishes or taken out the garbage.

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