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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Current Events: Our Method

Did you know that 1.73 people die while 4.13 are born every. single. second?  In the same fraction of time, 73 items are ordered over at, and 50,000 e-mails are sent by yahoo alone.  In an age when it is virtually impossible to stay current on what is happening, as we are constantly inundated with information available on the instant from every corner of the earth with most anything you could possibly think of being googled at any hour of the day...

How does one discern what really matters? 
How do we remain current and not waste a ton of time?

Time Cover Story: How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live (in 140 characters of less)

Current Events. This year marks the first time I have put today's world in the hands of my older children. They've read books, they've talked with grown ups, but this is the first time they themselves will come face to face with the world as presented through the media. It isn't a safe or pretty place. In particular, because of the nature of the internet, and folly being only a mouse click away, it is vital that they not be left to their own devices or be given too much liberality when it comes to sifting through the headlines.

Dealing with Time and Developing Discernment. 

With so much information at their fingertips, how are they to know what to read? Obviously, if they pick something that simply isn't important, all is not lost; discernment will come with time. There is the good, there is seemingly a lot more of the bad, there is the appropriate and an unfortunate amount of the inappropriate. Someday, they will choose. all. by. themselves. EEK! At some point in time they will probably read things I'd rather they hadn't. Can we just come to terms with that? (no, believe me, I'd rather not)

In the meantime, I will try to teach them how to go about the choosing. After all, we are in the world, even if we are not of it. An understanding of which might just be the key to developing proper discernment. :)

However, with one computer, our main concern at this point is time. And all of our news sources online as they are, we don't have a lot of time to spare :)

The time factor:
  • Limiting time. This is a tool that I use as a grown up ALL of the time. I commonly limit the time I have to finish a certain task. I take 30min to read in the morning. We start school at 9am, for example. It is when I do NOT limit my time that I end up wasting hours upon hours getting super side-tracked or just plain lazy. A timer with a LOUD and annoying beep is a very helpful tool for practicing self control ;)
  • Limiting the sources was also a big help.  Limiting them even more will be even better. For now. In this way, I can use Masterly Inactivity, instead of hovering, pestering, or generally showing myself as a control freak. :)
  • They might also find that following a certain interest over the course of several weeks would be very interesting - discoveries made within a certain branch of Science, political issues, war and it's outworkings, a particular country in the news, etc. 
The discernment factor:
  • I thought that narrowing the selection would be a good way to keep them from being overwhelmed with the flood of information as well as time limits (they had 2 sites to choose from). It worked alright in that regard. But even with the limited choices, how were they to discern for themselves what items were worth their time? This is a big deal. I find that for myself, sensational headlines often draw my attention much quicker than the world happenings that really are affecting history.  
  • For now, I will be their discernment filter. I will choose for them. As we go along, I will dialogue with them about what is worthy of their time and what clearly is not. Later on, I will ask them to join me in deciding what news is pertinent for them to read. When I see a maturity and responsibility in this, I'll be happy to simply guide their choices. How long does this process take? Hah! I could foresee it being within a year's time, or several... it absolutely depends on the student!
So for now, here's what we do:
  1. I can usually tell, from family conversation about what is happening in the world and knowing my children well, what will interest them. Based on what the news is, I've picked 4-5 articles for them to choose from (this way I can print them off!).
  2. I like to add an article about the same event from more than one viewpoint/news source. I would love to always have a conservative print magazine (World) to compare with the more liberal media. 
  3. At some point, once we have some experience with this subject under our belts, I will graduate my kids to selecting their own articles from well-known and trusted sites. This will probably not take place until we have more than one computer between the 7 of us ;)

Anonymous Wall Street Protest

The links for this week:

Wall Street Protestors Decry “Gilded Age”
Better Late Than Never
Occupy Portland Summary : Protesters march, begin to fill Pioneer Courthouse Square :
Occupy Portland: Photo Essay :
Occupy Movement Reaches Critical Stage :

Editorial Cartoons at World Magazine :
Food Stamps Surge :


Charlotte Mason in the City said...

I am going through the same introduction with my 13yo. I decided to use print instead of the 'net, but we'll be venturing into online news eventually, of course.

I am so appreciating the word "discernment" as I navigate this new era in parenting.
Thank you for this post as your words give me more guidance.

I also use the timer to help me keep on track. I truly think instead of the Age of Information, we are living in the Age of Distractions. Yes, indeed, we need to cultivate discernment.

Craig and Bethany said...

Sooo helpful!! Even though my kids are much younger, I'm already thinking about how we will handle this topic. I appreciate such a well thought out post. Thanks, Amy!

Nancy Kelly said...

Very nice, Amy. I was just thinking what a great resource it would be if someone would post exactly what you did at the end of your post - a list on one topic from different sources/views. Maybe once a week. Does anyone know if someone does this regularly?

Re: the time factor. I'm chuckling over here. My kids can get completely lost for an entire morning in reading current events. Then again, so can I!


North Laurel said...

Another area that we uh, well, we don't get it done. I am a bit of a 'bury my head in the sand' person and I don't want to be. We don't have television and on the internet I seem to go to where I always go and nowhere else.
I'm grateful you've added another post that gives some links (saves me from having to uncover my head lol) for current events.
And thank you for stopping by to say hi :)

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