I currently homeschool my kids. I do so for a variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with hating public school, as some people assume.
Anyway, this year we have an excellent science book called Science in the Ancient World. It's awesome. Each chapter has an experiment that goes with it and we're learning stuff about people like Galileo and Aristotle. Stuff I never knew much about before.
Today our lesson was about a man named Erastothenes, who lived around the time of Aristarchus, the guy who first theorized that the earth was NOT in fact the center of the universe. No one believed him at the time, but that's beside the point. Aristarchus knew the truth, darn it all, and was finally vindicated in his beliefs over 1500 years later when heliocentrism became the norm. But again, that's beside the point. We're talking about Erastothenes.
Erastothenes was the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth. How he did it is an amazing story involving the sun, shadows, and geometry, but anyway he did it. So in school this morning we discussed at length how he did it, what a sphere is, what angles are, what circumference means and that sort of stuff.
I was feeling pretty proud of teaching my kids about something as cool as Erastothenes and the circumference of the Earth. I felt like maybe I'm good at this homeschooling thing after all. How many six year olds know about these things, right? Surely this information will somehow enrich their lives for years to come. Right?
It didn't take long for my bubble to burst. My husband came home briefly for lunch and saw what we had been studying and asked the boys about it.
"Who is Erastothenes?" he asked. My heart grinned in anticipation of the display of knowledge I just knew was coming.
"Ummm...." one son said. "Well......"
I turned my attention to the other son. He would save the day, I thought. He would demonstrate right then and there that all my efforts had not been in vain.
He cleared his throat and confidently gave his response. "Erastothenes is the guy who circumcised the Earth."