Monday, June 17, 2013

Study Help For Finals First Timer

I get to learn grade seven social studies all over again! Macboy is ready for finals starting next week. He is a little anxious about social because he struggles with it. So do I, social studies is kinda stupid. At least for those of us who aren't interested in politics or naming the dead presidents of the US. We live in Canada, you know? Wait, I think we are out numbered, or nearly outnumbered, those who were born here. Not that I am complaining, Canada is awesome and everyone should want to live here. But, we can't distort our history to accommodate everyone, can we?

My boy has had test anxiety before and has overcome so very many obstacles on his way to junior high. I am so proud of him! I don't want to see his anxiety grow, so I've committed myself to helping him this week. We will break things down into smaller sections, review and  read, and find a way to make it make sense for him. 

Macboy has no trouble learning anything if he can find some relevance in it. He needs to know WHY he learns something and WHY it applies to his life. When he was in kindergarten and grade one and we were starting reading, he didn't want to do it. He questioned why he needed to learn it. So we took a drive after school one day and I showed him all the signs. Street signs, stop signs, store signs... everywhere. I told him that reading is important because it happens every day. He's not as avid a reader now, but he still does enjoy it.

With math it was easy, you also use math everyday. Science applies to everything that grows around us, plus his technical brain just gobbles up the science of robotics and physics. It makes sense.

Social? Well, social is harder. Current events is one big part of it, but as I make an effort to prevent the news from playing here, I can't really teach that. I don't believe in it, really. I don't want to know all the horrible things that happen in our world. I don't want to listen to political mudslinging campaigns. I don't want to make my children afraid of the world they live in. I have a hard time believing that there is more crime or natural disasters in the world today than ever before. I think we just have to hear about a whole lot more of it.

It's not that I don't feel for those people affected, but I don't want to hear it every single day. I will help my neighbor, I donate items to help where I can. I do my part, right here and now. I also don't expect someone in Japan to come running to my rescue when a tornado blows through our city. Right? And I am beyond sick of hearing the names of murderers and terrorists being repeated until they are lodged in our minds for eternity. Sick, evil people do not deserve fame! Treasure those who survive. Name the family who is grieving! Give them the fame. "Look at how strong and amazing these people are, they had their children taken in a horrible way, but look! They are still standing. They are strong. They have not stopped living!"

History is hard too. I've taught by example that things that are in the past should stay there. Now, I understand there is a big difference between a fight with your brother and a war between the natives and the explorers. But still. Beyond gratitude for the country we live in, as it is today, why do we need to learn about death? War is not now and has never been a good thing. Period. People DIE. For what? A slightly bigger (or smaller) piece of grass? Learn the names of the Generals who led thousands of young men to their death.  The names of the men who stood on the sides and sent teenagers into a minefield. I just can't teach him that this is good.

But, Minecraft to the rescue for us. Building communities, working together, solving problems.... that I can teach. I can teach him that there is more. We can learn from history, even if it means that we strive to never repeat it. I can show him how having his own specific job in a minecraft server is like real life. Each person has a job. Each job is needed to make the server world flourish. I can teach him about trade, this guy has cobble stone you need, and you have wheat he needs. Bam. Social studies. 

And suddenly, social becomes relevant to HIM. I hope to at least relieve the anxiety and boost his confidence going into the final. I'm not gonna cram him full of names and dates he'll forget. But we will cover everything we can. Sometimes, just having read it recently makes a big difference. I will let you know how this goes! Wish us luck!

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