[Important update to my view on Wikipedia is here.]

Haven’t blogged for a while, but i couldn’t pass up this opportunity to brag on Carman (now 13 and a half and in full bloom in so many ways) and on Wikipedia. Here goes…

So, over breakfast, Carman and I (Marathon) were reading an article that included the following (probably apocryphal) anecdote:

“After 9/11, staffers and others present in the white house realized they didn’t know where Afghanistan was and had to find a globe.”

He laughed at that and said it would be “so easy” to know a thing like that. I looked back at him suspiciously.

Then I had an idea: “Okay, wise guy, you draw a map on this side of the refrigerator and I’ll draw mine on that side. Draw Afghanistan and the countries around it.”

A minute later, we had our maps. First I’ll show you mine.

I knew that Afghanistan didn’t have any coastline, but I couldn’t seem to resolve it without having India border Afghanistan to the south. Iran to the west and Pakistan to the east were easy, and I stabbed in the dark the Kazakhstan lay north.

Okay, here’s Carman’s map. Wow! He nailed the (very important) shape of Pakistan and stayed away from my error of having India border Af. Also, he surpassed me by naming Turkmenistan as one of the northern neighbors. We both messed up with Kazakhstan — The other northern neighbor turns out to be Tajikistan.

So, how does one account for a 13 year old who can do this? I would lay the credit on two things.

First, in our house, we talk about the world: politics, economics, history, etc. It’s one of those homeschool freebies.

Second, Milkmaid and I decided — about a year ago– to give the older kids free run of certain websites, the most important of which is Wikipedia. Since then, Carman estimates he has visited over a thousand Wikipedia pages, usually liking for some snippet of info about a country or event that interests him.

Moral: freedom opens the door for unexpected things. Some of them really good things.