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Home Ed 101

BY Sonny Orr May 8, 2020

One thing about this horrid shutdown is that there is a light at home – our kids. The most indestructible force in the universe, living in your space. Need I say more? Then the idea of home-schooling kids got me thinking about how much I could teach these little ones. After the first week of educational efforts, this teacher wannabe had learned more from the kids than I could teach in a lifetime. 

Like a new language called baby talk. It’s cute the way they communicate and all the words they use got me goo-goo-ga-ga-ing away. I also learned how to hum to the right frequency when forced to use the swing, a very handy contraption when it comes to putting the little one to sleep. 

Alchemy is another trick of the trade – how to prepare the secret formula for the baby bottle. Now I know why it’s called baby formula. I honed my top-notch negotiation skills by applying the ones I learned in business classes. When you can get a crying baby to do what you want it to do, you’ve graduated from Home Education 101. 

Then it’s trying to get the kids to learn something from you. It’s a different and highly skilled level that requires Zen-like focus and the ability to see joy in all the things that annoy everyone else. In other words, to get a child to respond to “Uh, uh, no, no” and then keep them happy by pretending you are a big monster that will carry them off if they don’t do as they are told. I could be a scary grandpa, but naw, why scare kids anyways.

Speaking of being scared, a polar bear is scary when it’s not being antisocial and wanders into town. It’s also the time when black bears emerge from hibernation and the bush radio gang gets busy. The constant chatter of information from deep in the bush to the town to get a forgotten item is amazing. The online retail giant Amazon could learn a thing or two from these old-school dispatchers. Today, Facebook, Messenger, UHF and VHF radio networks are all synchronized to get that USB charger cord someone forgot in their left pocket and onto a charter flight in a matter of minutes. Now that’s delivery service! In the meantime, the black bear emerging from has given its life to the hunters who respect it.

The kids learned a lot about how to get along with each other with a lot of vigorous physical gaming, dotted with a lot of kids’ videos. The TV is hooked up to my souped-up satellite internet service and is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping kids knowledgeable, at least it’s stuff that teachers would have a hard time teaching without. Maybe this home schooling will cut down on the costs related to education by not having to build physical schools anymore. 

So, whenever this highspeed Starlink system is ready to serve customers, it will be possible to work from the bush and teach kids online all the things that can be delivered in a classroom and inside a family environment. Who knows? I know my stepson learned to read using an Xbox so he could get to the next level, so anything is possible.

As for the polar bear, he learned that towns can be a good place for food, but a bad place if you are the food. Hopefully he will carry on with his life in peace.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.