We super love the Mystery of History series and are now on our 3rd volume after maybe 7 years of being introduced to this material.
The other day, my 11-year old student and I learned about philosopher and political theorist, John Locke.
“The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment and made central contributions to the development of liberalism. Trained in medicine, he was a key advocate of the empirical approaches of the Scientific Revolution. In his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” he advanced a theory of the self as a blank page, with knowledge and identity arising only from accumulated experience. His political theory of government by the consent of the governed as a means to protect “life, liberty and estate” deeply influenced the United States’ founding documents. His essays on religious tolerance provided an early model for the separation of church and state.” (www.history.com)
How then do you bring this closer to a 11 year old’s mind? How do you explain the concept of “tabula rasa“, the state of being brought into this world with blank slates/ minds, without any mental content and that all knowledge come from actual experience??? Did we totally agree with it?
Light Bulb Moment!!!!! (pun not intended, you’ll realize in a while) One of the beautiful things with being able to see your children grow 24/7 from infancy to school age years lies in seeing all the moments you can always look back to, laugh about, ponder on and just “bond” endlessly through shared memories. So this is how I drove this seeming “high and mighty” big concept closer to home for my son.
Mama Donna: Gino, remember when you touched a lit light bulb (Mama’s bedside lamp, now there’s the pun!!) and burned your little finger ? And you cried so hard?
Gino (chuckling) : Yes (laughing now).
Mama Donna: Well, like this argument of John Locke, you can say you had a blank knowledge about the fact that light emits heat and therefore a lit bulb is hot and dangerous to touch. Without that knowledge, you went ahead and burned yourself. And as John Locke says, you have learned something new by this experience (that act of touching it and burning your finger) and will most likely not do it ever again, right?
By this point, I know, because of something so “close to home: an unforgettable and painful experience” for my son, I knew I got his attention.
I then proceeded to challenge him to think by citing the argument that though you learn through experience, there are absolute truths in life. There are truths that you do not need to experience in order to learn the lesson or the principle. (Can you know imagine where this conversation can lead to? I can talk all day, Gino, but I controlled myself.)
For Christian families, absolute truth comes from the Word of God. The commands laid out, we believe, are there for our own protection, given by our loving Creator. In faith, we believe in that. We do not need to experience theft, or slander, to know that it is wrong. We do not need to kill in order to know that murder is evil.
Scientific truths like gravity, concept of time (day and night), the Earth’s rotation and revolution are absolutes. No one can argue those things. And yes, Gino, light energy also emits heat. Mama is truly sorry that I was not able to teach that earlier on so you could have prevented that burning incident. Experience then taught you big time and you will probably never repeat the same action, but then if I had told you the truth that lit light bulbs are hot to touch, you probably would have not touched it in the first place, right ( or curiosity can actually sometimes confuse things, or you may not believe Mama and try it out yourself )?
This seemingly simple 10 minute conversation with my son during homeschool time was precious. I know we both got thinking on how life and lessons merge and how basic principles in the course of our study can make one stop and think and wonder, and yes relate what you’ve just read to many other areas of your life. AND, THIS. IS. WHY. WE. LOVE. HOMESCHOOLING. AND .WHY. IT. ROCKS!
Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.