Thursday, July 7, 2011

Making a Difference

In early April, I took the boys to a homeschooling program about fish at a local state park. It was a great day. The boys spent the day learning about the anatomy of fish, habitats, etc. In the afternoon, they were each assigned a 'mystery fish' . Given a picture of a fish with no identification, they had to use the resources in the nature center to find out which fish they had. JT had the johnny darter, EM had the American eel. After finding their fish, they needed to put together a poster to present to the group.

A couple days later, as a follow-up activity, I had the boys watch BrainPOP's video about fish. Half way through the movie, JT yelled, "That's not right!" When I investigated the problem, I found out that the movie stated "All fish have swim bladders." JT knew that this was not correct because HIS fish from the homeschooling day did NOT have a swim bladder. I told him that he would have to write a letter to the producers of BrainPOP if he wanted to let them know their error.

When he started writing, I explained that he couldn't just tell them they had their facts wrong. He would need to prove it. He would need a reference to cite. He found the pamphlet that he brought home from the state park and found an online version. He wrote a very concise, professional letter. He was also sure to let them know how much he loves their movies. I was one proud momma!

Several months went by. I started to assume that BrainPOP doesn't do a whole lot to communicate with their fans. Then one day in June, the Federal Express truck rolled into our driveway.

BrainPOP not only replied to JT's letter, they also sent him a package full of BrainPOP swag! But more importantly, they changed the movie based on JT's information.

I see two important things that can be learned from this letter writing adventure. First of all, if you know someone is incorrect, and teaching others something that is incorrect, it is important to let them know about it in a professional manner. When you do that, intelligent people will look at your arguments and make a change to what they are presenting to others. The second is that those in teaching positions, whether it be 'real' teachers, parents or even cartoon robots, need to be willing to listen to the opinions of others. I try never to assume I KNOW the right answer. There's always a chance that I may be proven wrong. If the evidence is there, I need to remember that I am not the expert. And even if I was an expert on something, experts make mistakes too. I am on the same learning journey as my children and therefore should always be ready to learn something new.


Monica said...

How awesome! I'm impressed with you guys and with Brain Pop.

Ingi said...

That is so cool! How empowering for your young man to make a difference and to learn about the nature of knowledge and how we "know" things!

Cyber Momma said...

Thank you both for your positive encouragement!