Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Creative Learning, or How I Learned to Use YouTube

One great disadvantage to being here instead of within walking distance of my beloved public library is that we can’t just go over to the library to get books that will fill out the kids’ history lessons. In the past the library has been a terrific resource that we’ve all enjoyed: a source of myths, picture books with full pyramid layouts, and great literature. I knew that we wouldn’t have library access here in China and brought only one book to complement their history books—The Odyssey (kid’s size). I am sorry that we don’t have more, but I already brought so many books that there’s no way I could have done it any differently.

Last week the kids’ friend Jed (one of the American teachers, about 25, who perfectly plays the role of big crazy uncle) mentioned in passing the phrase “walking like an Egyptian.” This week we read a chapter in Grace’s history that included information about King Tut, among other Egyptian pharaohs. Somewhere in the middle of the chapter, Grace turned to me and said, “Mama, what does it mean to walk like an Egyptian?” Oh, how I was cast back to my sixth grade year, when I won a spot to visit the King Tut exhibit in Seattle. It was an experience that I’ve never forgotten (punctuated, curiously, by witnessing a girl in my class innocently and generously giving a five dollar bill to a beggar and then watching her get yelled at by our teacher—we didn’t have beggars in our small farming town in Eastern Washington, so it was a new thing to us) and I vividly remember the hype and commercialism that surrounded the entire exhibit. Anyway, here Grace wanted to know about King Tut (and that goofy phrase) and I could only imagine the really cool books from the exhibit that Samuel and I looked at two years ago. And then it came to me: if I can’t offer the real thing, at least I could address the “walking like an Egyptian” thing.

So here is what Grace and Samuel watched over and over again—Steve Martin and The Bangles. Will they remember this, years down the road, and say that I ruined them forever? Probably not. Heck, they probably won’t even remember it. But I will. And I will laugh, thinking about the look on their faces when they saw for the very first time Steve Martin doing his King Tut song on Saturday Night Live (“Look at the blender, Mom!”), or the city people on The Bangles’ music video “walking like an Egyptian.”


Belinda Starkie said...

Bless you. You brought me to tears.

I was lucky to see the Steve Martin spot when first broadcast on SNL. How we laughed.

Imagine, this becomes history.

Michelle Ellis said...

That is so cool! I had no idea you could access You tube in China. Very cool.