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A not so simple question

I cringe when people ask my girls what they are learning.  It does not happen often but when it does, I can pretty much guarantee that they will look at the questioner with a blank expression as they struggle to find the words to answer that simple question.

Except that question is not so simple.  We don’t really categorize our learning by subjects.   They could say, “In current events we learned about the challenges facing Washington in 2014” - yeah right.  Or they could say, “In math I read that Fred is attending a conference and with the money he received he bought an 800 serving ice cream machine to feed the audience and demonstrate the concept of long division.” - not gonna happen.  Or they could say, “I’m still working on a collaborative piece of fiction with three other girls and it is about a boy who gets kidnapped and his rescue and we have been working on it for months and it is pages and pages long.” - but that won’t come to mind.

Tonight I was watching Little House on the Prairie with Grace when I realized how odd it must seem for them to be asked this question.  Through our study of history we have learned much about the history of the Jewish people.  We learned about the Diaspora in Story of the World.  We learned more in Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman.  We learned a great deal about the Holocaust in Hannah’s Suitcase, and more still at the Maurice Sendak exhibit.  Little House, season 5, episode: The Craftsman, deals with an elderly Jewish craftsman and the prejudice he faces from townspeople in this country.  His young apprentice also faces bullying and teasing for his association with the craftsman.  Grace looked at me and I at her, and without saying a word, we  understood that yet another layer of learning was added.

Grace does not have a chapter test on the Jewish Diaspora, nor does she have a test on the Holocaust, yet she has an understanding of both.  She is not cramming vocabulary words or memorizing dates, yet she knows that this issue spans centuries, countries and still continues today.

This is why I must keep records, for to go back and “prove” that this learning happened without a test or a text will be challenging four years from now.  Today, Little House on the Prairie gets listed under history, alongside the biography on Maurice Sendak and the time spent listening to Hannah’s Suitcase.  


  1. This is exactly why I love homeschooling. We don't test either but Keilee learns so much. Life learning not 'learning for a test and then forgetting". I think it is because we incorporate so many things into a lesson. it isn't just 'read the text and answer questions" we always try to find at least 2 more sources; YouTube or movies or a book to go along with it or virtual field trip or any number of other things. Life learning not test learning.


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