learning facts – the magic school bus effect

“I like the magic school bus because it teaches me facts. It tells me interesting things. The magic school bus is cool because it tells you true stuff. It, the bus, can turn into different things. I like looking at the different suits Ms Frizzle is wearing. I really like Carlos because he’s funny, they keep saying “Carlos” because he tells all the jokes. He’s a bit like  me. I like Arnold, he’s the one that keeps saying “I wish I’d stayed home today”. At first I only knew his, Liz, and Ms Frizzles names as he’s quite popular. I like the log one because I like all the different things they found that they had uses for, like slime mold as a slide. It gave me the idea they could use a rotten orange as a bouncy castle. I have always wanted to be small.”

I’d never heard of it. The first book we got was a present from an American home-stay student (thanks Emma) and it has sparked buying many more. It’s a somewhat weird concept – science ideas packaged with characters and a magic bus. I like my science straight. Helena likes the old TV shows better than the new ones, some of which she has the book of. At home all the books are kept together and often get taken down in a pile. She’d ‘read’ them over and over before she could read. She likes the TV episodes better due to the way the TV episodes deal with the “side details” and makes them move. Watching the TV shows she can identify which episodes she has the books of, shouting joyously “I’ve got that one”. Helena can identify the characteristics of the main characters like she knows them personally. Every now and then we’ll be looking at something out in the real world and out of her mouth will come a relevant Magic School Bus fact. She likes the facts. Knowing FACTS, I don’t think she rates knowing facts above understanding. I’m pretty sure she rates having ideas, creativity, and making connections as the better things. I am still working on not seeming to give higher weight to the regurgitation of facts. I go for the “oh yeah” or I say “what made you think of that?”… but it’s hard not to think that “knowing the facts” is “knowing” when actually it can be just a parrot talking. “Barking at print” is the term for reading at a higher level than your comprehension. But even if she is empty fact learning I guess she can just file those facts away she doesn’t get and access them when they make sense, and have that ah ha moment.

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