Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Asterix the Educator

Children never cease to amaze me with their ability to retain and synthesise information. Also their uncanny knack for bringing up complex subjects when you are distracted, brain-impaired and in a hurry, so that you have the additional challenge of finding simple and suitable but accurate responses.

Breakfast this morning, the usual school day hustle to get up and out of the house. An impromptu lesson in comparative religion comes out of nowhere:

“Mummy, does everybody in the whole world have Christmas on the same day?” – my six-year-old’s thoughts are never far from the anticipation of Christmas right now.

“Well Christmas is always the same day but not everyone celebrates Christmas.”

“Oh yes, some people don’t celebrate birthdays either” – she ponders, they’ve dealt with the astounding fact of some children not having proper birthdays, as there are a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses at school, who can’t come to birthday parties or eat birthday cake.

“Well there are lots of other religions in the world that don’t believe Jesus is the son of God, and Christmas is his birthday so they don’t celebrate it. They celebrate at different times”

“He was born a long time ago.” She is being Mary in her Nativity play and is thinking herself into her part.

“2006 years ago”, chips in my son who likes to be accurate, “like St John in the year zero.” They were learning about some of the saints last term.

“When there were dinosaurs?”

“No, they didn’t still have dinosaurs then!” My eight year old son is getting a grip on the vastness of time now.

“That was when the ancient Romans ruled a lot of Europe,” I put in, to get time into perspective “like in Asterix......Jesus was born a Jew and they believe in one God. The Romans believed in lots of different gods.”

“Mercury and Jupiter” agrees my son “and Juno.”

Here I obviously look amazed at his knowledge - they haven't touched upon ancient Rome at school.

He explains: "In Asterix the Romans are always saying by Jupiter or by Mercury.”

Here the conversation draws to a close as cereal bowls have been emptied and there is a rush to get dressed and organised for school. My brain reeling, I rewind to check that I haven’t given any inaccurate information, that will be retained and brought out to confound me at a later date. No platitudes or sweeping generalisations are safe in this family, I’m having to sharpen my perceptions and redefine and clarify my own beliefs in order to keep up with my children.


  1. I know what you mean. I have to be very careful about any knowledge I wish to share, it had better be accurate, because my two girls remember everything I say as the absolute truth. With their deluge of questions, I find myself answering "I don't know" more and more often. Then we go look it up on the computer, deliverer of many facts around here.

  2. It's definitely better to admit you don't know something, then look it up later and give the correct answer. I have been badly caught out giving an off-the-cuff answer and then hearing my idiocy repeated back to me over and over again.


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