So for a while I’d been wondering whether unschooling was going wrong somewhere for us. Nookie had gone quite a while without seeming to really latch on to a subject and learn about it. Yes, she was learning here and there, but whereas before she has really gotten into a theme and followed it (human anatomy, old-fashioned short films, etc), lately she didn’t really seem to show interest in anything specific. I wasn’t too worried, just wondering how to pique her interest.
As usual learning tends to happen in the most unusual and unexpected places. This time it was from computer games. For a while she has enjoyed playing these little flash games online (or rather, watching me play them and sometimes joining in or telling me what to do – she can’t yet operate a mouse). It started off with CBeebies games and moved on to other cartoon games. Eventually she stumbled on these surgery games. They’re great. You get to perform a virtual operation… stomach operations to remove a swallowed object, fitting a pacemaker, etc. They’re quite accurate and detailed and really fed into her fascination with human biology. We spent hours playing them.
Then, as usually happens, one link led to another and we found ourselves playing some first aid games. A little toddler injures himself somehow and you have to administer first aid, perform CPR, etc. They’re not that accurate in some ways, and some of the advice in the games is definitely not recommended medical advice, but I’m not sure how much that matters. In the space of two days Nookie has learned how to call for an ambulance, what CPR is and (sort of) how to perform it, how to treat a burn (and how not to), how dangerous water near electricity is, what a stroke is, and numerous other things. And since then we’ve played emergencies with her teddies and her toy medical kit and we’ve gone into more detail about what to say to an emergency operator if you have to call 999, what an address is, etc. And suddenly she’s absorbed in a learning subject again and soaking up knowledge. And it all started with “silly” computer games. The internet really is such an amazing learning resource.