This week I took my children on their usual trip to the library. The kids enjoy walking up and down the isles like most children do. Jenna stopped abruptly and asked, “Mom, what are these?!” I turned my head to find a small series of World Book Encyclopedias.
The look on her face was priceless when I explained that when I was a kid, if we wanted to learn about something, we had to look the word up in these books, and in some cases, that’s all we could use. I opened a sample and showed her that the texts are comprised mostly of just words. Her jaw dropped. This is my generation’s version of “When I was your age I walked to school in a snow storm up hill both ways!”
I got to thinking about how I learned to acquire information when I was her age. I remember having a set of Funk and Wagnalls on the shelf; I would comb through that set looking up all sorts of facts. My brother wanted to play football, so I researched the sport. 7th grade brought a cultural assignment on Nicaragua, and I’m pretty sure a few reports were created compliments of those texts.
Just think of what information acquisition is like now. My daughter can search for anything her mind questions by simply grabbing my phone, an iPad, or jumping on a computer and calling up thousands of resources. Lucky for her she can also consult her local library where she can tap into all of Southwest Wisconsin since the libraries are digitally linked. Information at her age is infinite.
What a limitless time to grow up, right? Here’s the deal though — she’ll need lots of instruction in how to sift through all of the junk of the web. Any guess how much of the content on the web is junk? So, she’s going to need critical thinking skills to sort through that mess.
Ask your teacher how he or she handles that. Yes, as a parent, it’s your job to assist with those questions, but there’s nothing wrong with checking in with the teacher.
Do you remember your first set of encyclopedias?!