Thursday, December 20, 2007

Torque & happiness

Yesterday, Jee and his friend Zee were playing a game and asked "What does 'torque' mean?"

In Firefox, they did CTRL T, typed "w", "i", selected "" then searched for "torque". They read a bit then applied it, exploring the concept using their elbows as the fulcrum, and their arms as the lever, each putting force on the other's arm and judging how far they were from the fulcrum, er, elbow.

This made me so blissfully happy because:
1. they can read
2. they knew where to access this knowledge
3. they naturally applied it

Jee and his friend are both 6 yo, teeny little guys, about 42 lbs of human being each and they are exploring concepts such as this. It made me so blissfully happy.

Once I asked a particularly brilliant Econ professor, "Did your parents do anything in particular that helped foster your love for learning?" The answer was immediate and without even the slightest hesitation:

"An Encyclopedia in the kitchen"

I could see it in my mind's eye -- a set of thick hardback encyclopedias spanning the shelves of the big bookcase in my kitchen, but it jarred my mind enough that I could hear the marbles rolling around in my head.

Clink. Clink, clink.

I can't have an encyclopedia in my kitchen. It's stagnant, a set of knowledge that never changes until I throw out that chunk of tree and get a new encyclopedia.

Hum. I have a bookcase in my kitchen, but it is full of living knowledge, tools for creation: coloring books, origami papers, cookie cutters, journals, recipes in three-ring binders so they can be consistently updated as the family's tastes mature. It is an organic bookcase.

For a comprehensive knowledge tool, I can't do an encyclopedia, but I can do the Wiki. I put a dedicated laptop in the kitchen, but due to power consumption issues, I can't leave it on all the time, nor can we boot up a system every time we have a little question.

I haven't found a solution that sits well with me yet and that's why I was so blissfully happy when Jee and Zee did what I was hoping my kids would do -- ask a question, access the answer. Hum. One of the desktops uses only 2 watts. Maybe that would work...

There's a good chance that if Jee is accessing the wiki at this level at 6, by the time he's older, he might wish to be a wikipedian, contributing.

Back to laying groundwork.