On Sunday my husband and I sat with our three children and watched live footage of a man jump out of a capsule, 24 miles above the earth, and fall. We saw him step into space, spin, then float and, 10 minutes after leaving his capsule, land elegantly on his feet in New Mexico.
No matter how great the threats and superstitions surrounding the (relatively) new universe that is ‘the internet’, I can only envy the opportunities my children now have to access the world, past, present and future in a way that I never dreamed of.
I have no doubt that I enjoy my children’s homework more than they do. The one-dimensional historical figures and vague, distant geographical locations I learnt about in black-and-white, have been miraculously brought to life on-line. All aspects of learning can be made interesting and accessible to children of all ages, tranformed by a quick visit to the search engine. Together, my children and I have explored Oceania (somewhere I hadn’t heard of until last year and have just this moment learnt how to spell correctly), mapped the path of the Canterbury Pilgrims on a satelite image, had close encounters with the planets, discovered how to make a rocket with an alka seltza tablet and made an on-line jet engine.
The internet may be a strange and sometimes dangerous place to explore, but it provides access to our world, (and the school curriculum), in a way that can inspire and fascinate our children. If you are reading this, I am probably preaching to the converted, but I urge you to encourage your children to jump – just ‘google’ anything and prepare to be amazed!