April 15th began much like any other day, and ended with details and images of the Boston Marathon bombings flashing across TV and computer screens, newspapers and Twitter feeds. We watched the drama unfold throughout the next few days, and wondered in what kind of world are our children growing up?
In the aftermath of those recent events, we watched for the inevitable conspiracy theories, finger-pointing, and blame-laying. We wondered who to believe, and what was merely sensational journalism. An interesting article, titled How We Talk About the Boston Marathon Bombing - and Why It Matters, appeared in the Time News Feed. It gives a fascinating look into the intentional use of certain words and phrases by both the President and the media, when discussing the horrific events. Quoting linguist and English professor Sandra Silberstein, the article states In times of national crisis, Silberstein says, the President and the media often use language that creates an “us” and a “them” — a set of victims and a set of terrorizers, good guys and bad guys.
As homeschoolers, we learn to look for teachable moments, even in the worst of times. While caution and discretion are certainly needed, the events of recent days are a tremendous current events opportunity for you and your students. Beyond summarizing the events (history, creative writing) and mapping where they occurred (geography), there's an even deeper opportunity for wrestling with the hard topics of truth in media, heroism, suffering, how social media handles tragedy, and how individual choices affect more than just the individual. I'm sure the list is even longer, but the point is that the horror of these circumstances provides us a chance to address issues such as these in the relative safety of our homes.
Sonlight's literature-based approach to teaching history introduces students to the struggles and sadness of the "current events" of many time periods. Discussing and debating difficult events from our past lays a foundation for dealing with the issues of the present day. Don't neglect the importance of connecting the attitudes and events of the past with the experiences of today through a study of current events.
And most importantly, we must always remind our children that God is on the throne and nothing, not even wars, massacres, or bombings are a surprise to Him.
Still on the journey ...
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