Monday, May 26, 2008

End of Term

This has been an amazing year for me as a parent. My son is wrapping up second grade, and I've always seen this age as a pivotal one because of what happened to me at that point in my own life. I discovered books. I read "I Robot" by Issac Asimov when I was in second grade and I was hooked. I started reading the Caves of Steel trilogy after that, then the Robots of Dawn books, and from there it was naturally on to Empire. Unfortunately, my paternal Grandfather had passed away just before, but fortunately he left his personal library of thousands of 50's through 80's Sci-Fi paperbacks to my parents. This gave me an endless supply of reading material that lasted me well into high-school when I started building my own library.

So you see why it's a pivotal year. My mind had finally developed enough that I could start to really soak up and retain information. Which brings me to my son's second grade year and his own little informational epiphany.

Flight 3
He's been a Star Trek fan for a couple of years now. I have the DVR set up to record pretty much every series - the Original Series, Next Generaion, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise - he loves them all. Space opera is the perfect vehicle for a little boy's imagination. There are ships and ray guns and aliens and infinite adventure. He especially loves the ships. I've bought him the technical manuals and encyclopedias from amazon.com and he spends hours drawing pictures of bridges, warp coils, nacelles and hulls.

More recently, I've shown him how to do searches on Google and Wikipedia to find more Star Trek stuff, and here's where I seem to have opened the flood gates.

We were all getting ready for school, one morning, and as I'm running around getting his sister and myself ready to leave, my son starts yelling that there were three Titanics! I knew he'd seen the movie a couple of years ago and I figured he was adding his own imaginary spin to what he remembered of the story. I told him that pretending was fine, but that there was a real Titanic, and we couldn't change history. He still insisted that there were three Titanics and he even provided the names of the other two: the "Olympic," and the "Brit-titanic" (his pronounciation). I was still rushing around the house getting ready, and, frustrated at the distraction, told him, "Man, you can't just go rewriting history on a whim. There was only one Titanic." He was more insistent than ever, though, and started pulling me to the front-room computer. There, on the screen, was a wikipedia page about the Olympic Class ocean liners from the turn of the 20th century - the Titanic, the Britannic, and the Olympic. I was floored. He then started to tell me about the fates of the three ships that he'd read on their various wikipedia entries.

I was so thrilled at the step he'd taken. He'd been looking for "Olympic Class" on Wikipedia trying to find the Star Trek vehicles of that name, but got the early 20th century ocean liners, instead. Then, after finding this new information, he read it and retained it. Here was the same developmental leap I'd taken at the same age - acquiring and retaining data. There's a huge difference, though. I had a limited amount of data that I could acquire, but he, via the internet, has nearly unlimited information at his disposal.

I'm eager to see where he goes next.

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