A Great Moment

or an ongoing series of great moments

This is a story of a boy...and a science fiction novel...and a computer game. And of a mother who is quietly doing handstands in her head (and planning a vacation).

Liam had a busy end-of-week last week. Over five days, he did *nothing* but go to three New Year's Eve parties, go to a 12 hour interactive military strategy computer game party, devour a 300 page science fiction book called Ender's Game, all interespersed with constant D&D playing to fill in whatever cracks were left after eating and sleeping a couple of hours a night wherever he and his friends happened to collapse. That's one heckuva wonderful, long holiday weekend for a 15 year old. (Ah, for the days when I had that much energy!)

On his way home last night from this awesome weekend, all he could talk about was the military strategy he'd been struck by in the novel he'd read, and how he'd found ways to apply what he'd learned there to the computer strategy game he'd played. He was fascinated, and insisted that I needed to read the book, too. I'm not a fan of science fiction, but he was so enthused — how could I say no? So, I began reading it right away.

In the author's introduction, I found repeated references to Bruce Catton's Civil War trilogy The Army of the Potomac, which apparently had had quite some impact on the writer. I happened to have the trilogy in my library, so while Liam was taking a shower, I *strewed* the books in front of his computer. Soon, he was out, all excited, wondering where in the world I'd gotten these? I've had them since I was your age, I explained. Round-eyed wonder.

He began to read the first book before going to sleep. (This being a boy who was terribly damaged by public school, who has been actively deschooling in one way or another for over two years, and who steadfastly refuses to read for information — as opposed to reading for pleasure.)

This morning, we were headed off to an activity, and he bubbled all the way about military strategy again, wishing that Catton's book had diagrams of the battles depicted. I offered to stop at the used bookstore on the way home to look through their extensive military history section. Cool! (This from a boy who hates, still, to go to the library, and spends his time at the bookstore looking at graphic novels, comic books, and gaming manuals.)

So, shop we did. And hit the jackpot. A book of the history of US land battles from the Civil War to the Gulf War, complete with diagrams, and a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, a centuries-old Chinese classic on military strategy and philosophy that is still taught at West Point today. Liam was walking on air as we left the store, and read snatches of Sun's book to me on the way home.

He also brought up an old idea we've tossed around before about taking a driving tour of Civil War battlefields, now expressing that he wanted to walk the diagrams in the battle book. Accordingly, when I got on the computer at home I found him some links and forwarded them. He's already working on a dream sheet.

Me? I'm absolutely dizzy. From a science fiction novel to a computer strategy game to a Civil War history classic to books on military strategy and philosophy, to plans for a vacation to Civil War battlefields.

What a trip! Today...and to come.

(Have I told y'all lately how much I love unschooling?)

Laura B.

What Marty Really Needed
(Another map story, coming soon, but on newstands now
in the January/February 2004 issue of Home Education Magazine)

Typical Unschooling Days