Christy and I are hanging out with Julia when Joel asks, “Could this grape turn into a raisin?” Joel asks. I could send him to Google. I could show him a YouTube clip, perhaps. However, I want him to see for himself.
“What’s your hypothesis?”
“I think it could turn into a raisin,” he says.
“Any other possibilities?” Julia asks.
“It could turn moldy.”
“What are some of the variables that can affect it?” she asks.
“How hot it is,” he says.
“Or how much moisture is in the air,” she explains.
We’ll see how it turns out. It’s an impromptu science lesson in our backyard.
“Can we build a story?” Micah asks.
“Sure, do you want to start it?” I ask.
“Once upon a time . . . no, let’s try a different start. One day Manny the Monkey was sitting at home . . .”
Impromptu language arts lesson.
“I want to play the ‘how do you get to’ number game,” Joel tells me.
“Can you give me a way to get to fifteen?” I ask.
“You could take five three times,” he says.
“Like, five and five and five?” I ask.
“How else?” I ask.
“You could half thirty,” he explains. “Or you could do eight plus eight and seven plus seven and then put them together.”
Impromptu math lesson.
“Did you have iPads when you were little?” Micah asks me.
“Did you have Angry Birds?”
“Nope. We had Intellivision. But that was it.”
“Was it like Little House on the Prairie?” he asks.
“No, but it was a time without cell phones and very few computers.” His eyes light up. To him, I’m ancient. It’s an impromptu history lesson.
“Dad, I heard that in some places kids don’t have food. Is that true?” Joel cuts in.
“Yeah, it’s true.”
“Then why do we have an iPad?” he asks.
Impromptu social studies lesson.
I’m a big fan of public education. It’s why I send my school to a place where an expert in the content and the teaching strategies will give them a structured learning experience. I believe in authentic learning and I recognize that there is authenticity in structure. Life isn’t always sandboxes and dandelions.
I’m also a fan of unschooling, which is why their summers are filled with science experiments and verbal math games and story-telling and Legos and magical mud and dragons. I want my kids to shake off the layers of industrial-strength indoctrination and get mentally messy.
I’m a big fan of paradox and nuance. I’m a big fan connections. It’s why I embrace paper and paperless, schooling and unschooling, specific and thematic instruction.