My Son, The 12 Year Old Scholar of Ancient History


Homeschooling brings joys, challenges, and the occasional ‘bad day.’  Moments come when the child you were sure would love mathematics in all its forms, just as you do, sits at the table with a frown on his face begging to do anything but his new math lesson.  There have been days when I was positive I would have had an easier time dragging a stubborn mule down the road than teaching my son the next mathematical concept.

Still, the homeschooling experience has been largely rewarding.  And it’s the moments like one I had recently that really make the whole voyage a grand one.

I was in our upstairs office room, where we have three computers and all the educational books and tools.  The room serves as my wife’s home work-space as well as a classroom for my son’s education.  Anyway, I was seated at the desk playing a video-game, Titan Quest, on the computer.  Titan Quest is a role-playing game where you create a character and go off on an adventure through ancient Greece, Egypt, and China, battling all sorts of mythological creatures along the way.  The makers of the game did an awesome job of depicting the ancient lands.  The graphics were very well done, and apparently they did their historical research, for many if not all of the buildings and devices were based on real ones.

As I was sitting there playing the game, in a stage set in Egypt, my son came into the room and watched my progress.  Suddenly my son pointed at the screen and said “hey, that’s a shaduf!”

He might as well have been speaking ancient Babylonian.  I just looked at him and said “what the heck is a shaduf?”

My son then proceeded to give me an education in ancient Egyptian irrigation techniques.  Apparently a shaduf is a device used to bring up water out of a river for the purpose of irrigating a field.  The game designers for Titan Quest had correctly thrown those into the game, as there were several of the devices along the river that flowed by a village one must guide his character through as the game progresses.

Here’s a link that illustrates a shaduf and how it would have been used.

It was an inspirational moment for me, and for my wife when I relayed it to her later in the day.  My wife was a history major, specializing in ancient and medieval history.  She has a passion for the study of history like few other people I’ve known.  That passion showed itself in the education of our son.  He has a broader knowledge of the ancient world than I did at his age, and I daresay he would give most high-schoolers a run for their money.

I remember moments like that one often, and call them to mind when we hit one of the difficult times.  Like it or not, even in homeschooling there will be subjects that hold no interest for the student.  But overall, my wife and I have seen it pay off; my son, who is now in his sixth grade year, loves to read and learn new things and has a strong grasp of history, literature, and science.  Sure, I wish he shared my passion for math and mathematical concepts, but you can’t win ’em all.  I have to be content knowing that when it comes to ancient history, I often have to go do a little research before getting into a debate with the kid.

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