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Learning at its Best

Lunar Musings

Somewhere in his first year of life, Micah noticed the moon. I’m doubtful that he understood that it was far away or that it was a sphere or that it orbited the earth. It was a beautiful mystery to him.

Somewhere between two and three, he noticed that the moon was out during the day. I’m not sure where he had learned it, but he had figured out that the moon created (I know, I know, reflected is the right answer) light. He questioned why the day wasn’t brighter. He questioned why the moon was out early. It was still a mystery to him.

That same year, he figured out that the moon disappeared and that it took different shapes. The stories he created were bizarre and more complex from ages three to four: the moon was made of ice cream and it melted down into different shapes or maybe God ate pieces of it and then replenished it when it got empty; the moon was filled with flashlights and sometimes they burned out; the moon was really a black and white object and it looked more white as it moved in the sky. Regardless of the stories he developed, the moon was still a mystery to him.

Two nights ago, he asked if he could go outside and look at the moon. He stood on our patio table and studied it intently.

“Look. It’s one big circle. Part of it is dark and part is white.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“The light is all around it,” he explained.

Not really. Not like a solar eclipse, but he was right. You could see the entire circle.

“There’s a light shining on one side and there’s not light on the rest,” he explained.

“Where do you think the light comes from?”

“The sun already disappeared, so maybe it’s God?”

“That’s an idea.”

I haven’t corrected him. I haven’t pulled out the lunar charts. I want to see how far he gets on his own. And when he gets to a point that he understands the moon, I’m hoping it will still be a mystery to him.

About John Spencer

I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.


5 thoughts on “Lunar Musings

  1. Almost didn’t post this, because:
    a. fear that I’m pushing a theological agenda, when in fact it’s just a kid’s observation of the world
    b. wondering how much permission I should have to share my own child’s stories and how much space I should give him
    c. an unsettling feeling that it might sound a little Hallmark

    Posted by John T. Spencer | November 30, 2011, 10:30 pm
  2. Stop John! anything you post on the cooperative is the right thing to post! I love this story and all the stories of your young learners at home!

    The last line is the best!


    Posted by dloitz | November 30, 2011, 11:19 pm
  3. John,

    Great post about a (your) child’s wonderings about the universe. Despite my disturbing theos-centered upbringing, I still believe there is some “Great Mystery” out there (I speculate physicists will eventually have to admit, based on
    scientific’ evidence, that there is some thing/one behind science) so feel free to share insights into what we Western-reared adults often forget — that we do not have all, or even most, of the answers. Perhaps the most important question (the ‘why’ of it all) will elude us until we walk on.

    Keep raising the Hallmark moments when you feel moved to do so. We blow it with kids, and with one another, when we frame matters in an overly intellectual, scientific, or factual manner — there is a heck of a lot more to life than what is called ‘knowledge’.

    Posted by Brent Snavely | December 1, 2011, 7:49 am
  4. Knowing takes us only so far.

    Thank you,


    Posted by Kirsten Olson | December 2, 2011, 3:31 pm

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