our archaeological leavings

We were working in our Ancient History text yesterday. Both kids surprised me, by knowing as much as they did. It’s a sixth grade text, so it’s not as though they’ve seen it before (and it’s very unlikely they were just perusing it in their free time). They were just… smart. Smarter than I would have been at that age.

We were talking about prehistoric times (anything between five million and five thousand years ago) and early civilizations. You hear the word “prehistoric” bandied about enough — what is “prehistory”? How do you define it? I presumed I was asking a rhetorical question, one that I (being the person with the textbook in hand) was going to answer. Béla answered it. “Any time before writing had been invented,” he said.

Oh. That’s… right. Good job.

An additional exercise to this portion of the chapter, which has so much to do with how we learn from fossils and artifacts, was to write a short essay about what an archaeologist might think if they walked into our home a thousand years from now. Claudia and Béla’s sad, but matter-of-fact response: “That’s ridiculous — nothing will be here.”

True, I said, but how about we say, just X number of years in the future — whenever one can find the house is in its current state, but it has not been inhabited for a very long time.

Claude’s writing is becoming so… writerly. (She is still going strong on her novel.) I pointed out to her her use of the present tense as being particularly “literary”, and her ending is just so dry:

Béla amuses me not only in managing to get the paper this wrinkled just carrying it across two rooms, but with his theory that Tucker’s bone collection would create the supposition of a hunter-gather society. (Which would mean we’d been eating deer, and mink.)

I could have streamlined my purchase of this textbook set — I’ve not needed the Teacher’s Edition yet and am only using one workbook — but I really appreciate how many things it teaches beyond history: writing skills, analysis. I’m glad I asked them what I wanted to learn.


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