Friday, August 28, 2009

Lifelong Learning & Shaving Off Your Eyebrows

Someone dear to me forwarded a quote, regarding self-education:
"When researching the higher-education options before us a few years ago, (we) studied college syllabi, interviewed students and teachers alike, spent time on several campuses, and then studied the way the best-educated men and women in history have become so. We concluded that colleges do not have the monopoly on higher learning, higher qualifications, and proper training. The historic fact is that the best-educated men and women of history have always been autodidiacts: people who took responsibility for their own educations and were self-motivated. Brick-and-mortar institutions and pedagogues have never cornered the market on education..."
(Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin in an interview by A&E on their book, So Much More: The Remarkable Influence Of Visionary Daughters On The Kingdom Of God (Hardcover - Oct 2005)

I'll be printing that out and framing it for my desk.

Years ago my MIL passed on to me, and I read, a book, 'Sacajawea' which was 1424 pages long. It took me the entire summer to read it, and I became completely fascinated with her. (You can't read a book that long and not become a bit obsessed over the subject, just try it!) Many nights around our dinner table I'd find myself sharing with Don and the kids, "Well, Sacajawea....." and the one we still all talk about is when I read that Sacajawea cut off one of her fingers as an act of mourning when her grandmother died. (BTW I highly recommend the book - you can follow the link provided and buy it for ONE PENNY from Amazon. When you're done with it, it would make a dandy doorstop.)

This week I gently started my autodidact learning process, with reading an elementary level book on Ancient Egypt. I can already feel that Sacajawea immersion and seepage effect building up. Yesterday I had fun sharing with several people some of what I've gleaned so far:

The upper part of Egypt is called Lower Egypt and the lower part of Egypt is called Upper Egypt. Interesting! I believe it has to do with the flow of the river. Will check it out.

Egyptian royalties spent much of their life preparing for death, building monuments to themselves, preparing their tomb, only to have the next pharoah or queen come along and remove most evidence they ever existed.

The few women who ruled Egypt wore a false beard. That had to be attractive!

Children ran around naked most of the time. It WAS hot there.

When people died, they removed different organs and put them in 'canopic jars', which were carried behind them, in a separate box, during the funeral procession, and then buried alongside them.

Egyptians believed the heart of the deceased was weighed by the judge Anubis, and that determined whether they qualified for eternal life. Interesting thought in light of my own and various other world religions. 'Weighing the heart".... hmmm.... food for thought.

The largest pyramid, Khufu's Great Pyramid is the largest stone building in the world, standing at 479 feet high. (The Empire State Building is 1472 feet by comparison, but keep in mind the pyramid was built by hand.) The stone slabs are fit together so snugly a hair cannot be pushed into the joints between them. I'm not sure you can say that about the Empire State Building.

Laundry was done at the river's edge, and was handled by men, rather than women, due to the danger of getting snapped up by a crocodile!

Mothers sometimes ate a mouse, to cure their sick child. She then put the bones in a little bag tied with seven knots and hung it around the child's neck for good luck. Interesting to see an ancient version of Urgent Care.

Egyptians believed animals were messengers of the gods, and routinely mummified calves, crocodiles and cats.

My favorite tidbit, and the one that will probably stick with me ten years from now: because of their belief that animals were messengers of the gods, when the family cat died the entire family shaved their eyebrows. We had some fun giggles over that one yesterday, seeing that our family cat is almost 11 years old, and not everyone in the family is crazy about her. I got such a funny mental picture of people walking to and fro around the kingdom, eyebrows missing. Guess it would be easy to know their cat had died within the past month or so.

How could anyone think studying Ancient History is boring? Fascinating stuff that makes for great dinner conversation at the end of the day.


Sarah said...

I did my first speech for my college speech class on the mummification process--I still remember it! I'm sure we'll be checking it out this year when we study Ancient Egypt! You and Caiden can be Ancient Egypt nerds together :)

Love that quote, by the way. Without motivation and responsibility for your own education, it wouldn't matter if you were taught at home or Harvard; neither would stick!

Gretchen said...

My son would lurve discussing Ancient Egypt with you. In fact, at his school this past year, for science, he mummified an orange. Then he made those canopic jars in the shapes of veggies for its guts for art class (pottery). In Language Arts, he wrote using new vocab about the Dark Ages, and in Drama, he wrote a play about a squid and some aliens in the Greek Comedy format. Sadly, in history...they just discussed all the eras of history together, he and his teacher. David was happy that he knew more about the Civil War than his teacher, and happy that his teacher could teach him some new things about the Pacific First People.

I'll have to tell him the stuff about eating a mouse and shaving eyebrows. At 13, that stuff is pretty delicious.

Ann said...

I think kids would enjoy school a lot more if the teachers taught stuff like this, instead of trying to make sure they can pass a test at the end of the year. Fortunately for my son we homeschool so he can learn all kinds of "fun" stuff like this!

pendy said...

Hey, I read that Sacajawea book ages ago, too, and was also mesmerized by it.

Becky said...

I think it is really smart of you to start with the elementary versions of your subjects. That is the way we learn after all. And wouldn't it be awful to have skipped to the political realm and missed all the shaved eyebrows in the process?

Keep learning ... keep sharing :)

Judith said...

Thought I'd suprise you here. About those Egyptians, I kind of wondered why their jawbones looked so tight. Can you imagine having to let your eyebrows grow back, again and again.

Glad you're having so much fun with your studies.

Judith said...

A big P. S!!!! Oh my goodness, I just made a spelling mistake.

Diane@Diane's Place said...

My formal education ended when I graduated high school, but I'm a voracious reader and learner. Most of what I know came from books and was self taught.

I knew all your facts about Egypt, but there's plenty more that I don't know yet. I hope to absorb some of it by osmosis when you write more posts like this, sharing the wealth of your personal learning journey.

Lay on, MacDuff! ;o)


PS: Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement for Lamar!

Karen said...

The kids and I also learned the "shave the eyebrow" thing this week--we laughed, too! How crazy!! Enjoy your learning!! Love and blessings, Karen

Anonymous said...

What is most interesting is how similar our current "modern", "contemporary" trends are with those of the "old days"! We just can't give up some traditions of yesteryear. We rename them something modern, but they are from another place and time.

Barb said...

"ancient version of Urgent Care" just made me laugh out loud. And you may remember that once we discovered tweezers, me and all my girlfriends went all through high school looking like our cat had just died. :-)

down pillow said...

Wow, how very interesting.