Peering over my computer screen while working on a blog post, I noticed Benjamin’s head bowed as he worked on another laptop directly across the table from me. I tried to keep focused on my work, but I couldn’t ignore Benjamin’s body language. He looked up at me as if I were his least favorite person in the world. Then a tear rolled down his cheek. What has been a fairly easy transition for our older son Adam (doing school work online) is already proving to be a more challenging fate for Benjamin. It is also going to be more challenging for his parents who are by default “his teachers.” Later the same day, I was reviewing the 8th grade science units, which I took responsibility to teach. Anxiety built as I looked at content long forgotten and I thought, Benjamin is going to fail 8th grade science with me at the helm. I don’t remember anything about molecular energy, nor do I have any interest! Thankfully I’m not responsible for the Algebra – Bob took responsibility for math and social studies. At least I got language arts – that’s much more up my alley. I guess it’s a fair divide.
The following day we did a field trip into DC where we visited Ford’s Theatre. Now this is much more enjoyable for all of us than reading textbooks online! Experiential learning -bringing history, science, and humanity to life. Hearing stories and seeing re-enactments, connecting events told through different perspectives, and putting them in the context of past, present and future – this is what I have envisioned for our sabbatical year. The online textbooks can be the additional resources, not the core curriculum this year.
From DC we traveled to NY city by bus. Arriving in the big Apple, Benjamin arose from his nap and was immediately surged with energy. He loves big cities! Though we will also do museums and field trips in this city, I know that far more life lessons will be embedded in the rides on the subway, the interactions with the locals, and the “good tired” that accompanies extended travel. I’ll call it “Worldschool.” That’s what we’re after this year – experiencing every-day life in diverse settings and taking time to note similarities, differences, how things work or don’t work, and what interests us most. We’ll also reflect on how the physical world intersects with the spiritual world and research the implications of human and technological development. This year is more about process than content. And hopefully, my inadequacies as a science teacher will be over-rided by the value of field experiences.
As we were leaving Ford’s Theater, having spent half the day absorbing definitive moments in time, I felt assured that Benjamin is going to do just fine this year. He had enjoyed every bit of it – I could see his creative wheels turning. I was filled with emotion as I watched him take interest and make correlations between the most significant leaders in history. I trust that Benjamin and Adam’s learning this year will play a significant role in shaping them for a life time.