That’s what I heard this morning when I was in a half-awake daze. “My land is called Mesopotamia. It means ‘the land between rivers.’ So there are rivers around my land.”
It seems the work we’ve done with Mesopotamia is sinking in. A.J. doesn’t exactly remember all the relevant facts, but he remembers enough to get by. Chances are he’s not going to need that information again until college. No one really has much need for ancient history anyways, but it’s good to see it’s sticking with him.
I think we’re slowly going to start introducing history as a logical progression through time. Being unschoolers, I’m not really going to push it or anything, more just offer it as an option for them to learn. If it sticks, great. If it doesn’t, no real loss there. If they go to college some of the stuff they’ll pick up will be useful, but if they don’t plan to go to college, there’s no real need to learn it. It just becomes little nifty facts you can toss out without having much relevance to anything important.
I know, I know, we need to learn history or we’re doomed to repeat it. Still, I don’t know what learning about the hanging gardens really does for a person, nor do I get why it’s important to know Hammurabi made the first code of laws. I find that information interesting, but only because I’ve spent so much time playing Civilization. Otherwise it just feels like filling my head with useless information. Most of it’s things I’d completely forgotten since I was in school, given I don’t exactly have casual discussions about what Ancient Mesopotamia was like. It’s far more likely to discuss Greece or Rome.
Still, it’s good to know some of this is sinking in. It’s becoming a part of play, which means the younger two will pick up on it over time. If it becomes something they talk about, or play about, that will help them all retain the information far better than any drilling on facts ever could.
And to me, this is still unschooling. “Here’s some information. Learn it if you like it. Forget it if it’s not useful or important. Go into it further if you find it interesting.” That’s basically the concept of strewing, the only difference is I have to present the data because the kids aren’t strong enough readers to do it themselves. This is what it’s supposed to be about. The kids are learning because they think it’s cool.
Just as I suspected, Luca and Sander haven’t wanted to stick around for most of the reading on Mesopotamia. Most of the books out there read like text books and are dry and boring. Even the DK Eyewitness books I was so recommended to check out read more like a text book. The only one Sander and Luca have really been into is You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Sumerian Slave. I put a bunch more of those books on hold at the library so we can read them together. I figure if the kids enjoy them, then why not?
But history is a subject that you have to have a passion for. If you don’t love it, you’re not going to enjoy learning about it. I can’t force my kids to love history, but I can give them plenty of exposure and opportunities to learn. I’m not going to insist they know certain things. I’m not about to test them on the information. I just want them to have a chance to learn. We’ll see where it goes from there.
Finally, after many people recommending it, we’re picking up Story of the World Vol. 1 from the library today. We’re going to check it out and see if it’s something the kids are even interested in. It’s geared towards classical homeschooling, but I think it can be adapted easily enough for any setting. Of course, we’ll know better once I’ve got the book in my hands and can see how it plays out. Hopefully it’s not too dry and textbook-like. I’ll be sure to check in with what the kids think of it before long.