Critical Thinking and Documentaries

Today is a true example of why I homeschool — I truly get to listen and experience the development of my children. It is also a good example of how flexibility and creativity are needed when three children are in my care all day long.

It started off with my two year old being sick and attached to my hip. Therefore our normal routine of hitting math and language arts in the morning was not going to work. So I had my 1st grader and 5th grader collaboratively choose a Netflix documentary to watch. They chose NOVA “Where Did We Come From”, narrated by our favorite scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. This piece covered the Big Bang, meteorites , latest research on the original RNA , and a fascinating segment on memory.

After watching this show we had a discussion about evolution vs creationism and can the two coincide. My fifth grader described what she believed beautifully. She thought that before humans existed there would have been no definition of time because humans developed the concept of time as they evolved into humans. She said dinosaurs didn’t “tell time” or have a “calendar”, it was all relative. Therefore she said she believes that God did create our universe and who is to say He didn’t do it in “seven days” because He existed before we did so who knows how long His “days” were. She said a day could have equaled thousands of years to us. It was not an answer I was expecting—I was impressed with the level of critical thinking. I truly love moments like this where I catch a glimpse into their minds.

We also discussed the different research designs the physicists use to test their hypotheses on something that occurred in the past vs the experimental design of a neuroscientist conducting current research on memory. The last segment of the show was on a neuroscientist’s research where he was able to eliminate a memory from a rat. We discussed ethics and the implications for this on humans. My fifth grader was then asked to write short essay on the potential problems of humans wanting to erase their “bad” memories because when media got ahold of this story , the researchers were flooded with letters from people who wanted traumatic memories erased or their mental illness erased. My daughter’s reasons for the dangers of this were remarkable– she stated that this has not been done on humans before and the scientist has warned of this so the person could be a vegetable or like Professor Lockhart in Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets (we love our Harry Potter ). She also said she believed a person who had their bad memories erased would not have learned from the negative things that happened in their life and sometimes even though things are bad, they are still a part of who you are. She concluded by saying that she believed memories are vital to one’s identity and individuality.

We concluded by reviewing the parts of the brain using our Usborne Understanding Your Brain(Understanding Your Brain–Link)

Today was a good example of expanding on their interests and using critical thinking to express thoughts. Perfect example of how most days the science and humanities are child-led 🙂



About Jennifer Walker, MS

I currently blog about mindfulness, meaningful life-learning, Montessori and Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
This entry was posted in Main Menu, montessori, Using Documentaries, Using Usborne Books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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