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27 May 2012


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Seriously? They are still testing children on their knowledge of almanacs and encyclopedias? The mind boggles. Though I have been contemplating buying at atlas mainly because Bella is not yet literate much less computer literate and yet we do like looking things up on maps. I thought it would be nice to have a resource she could browse at leisure and not be dependent on me for. But I recognize that's a very specific and limited usefulness window and is mainly constrained by the fact that internet resources are not available to her.

I was just saying to Dom this morning how wonderful it was to be able to just find a You Tube video of the Wagner piece and actually listen to what it sounds like-- which was nothing like I thought it would sound like from reading the words.

I also found an interesting piece in my rabbit trailing, which I didn't discuss in my blog post about Wagner's interest in Buddhism and how it plays out in Tristan und Isolde. I decided not to follow that trail any further because I'm just not that interest in the Buddhist elements of the opera or how they might play out in the poem, but I could have.

I really like your treasure hunt metaphor. It really does feel like that doesn't it? I think some of my favorite blog posts are the rabbit trail ones where a blogger shows you the various things they stumbled upon by following an interest through various sources.

Can a person even be considered fully educated in this century if they don't know how to do web based research? I've been pondering that after following a rabbit trail Melissa Wiley started me on about a plagarism case. I kept thinking why oh why isn't intellectual property and fair use and writing for the web being taught in schools? When I was still teaching writing I tried very hard to at least begin the conversation with the students about how the internet shapes the way we produce writing and transmit our ideas. And that was almost a decade ago.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your rabbit trail. A pleasure of a post.


To be fair, the ITBS materials state that "The [reference materials] test has been designed to assess skills, such as the selection of keywords, that are important when using both electronic and traditional reference sources." But my son insisted there was a question about almanacs in there! (I have to go on his memory as I wasn't allowed to keep a copy of the test.)

Barbara C.

When I was a kid the only use I had for an almanac was playing "Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?" on the computer. My parents gave my kids The 2011 World Almanac for Kids as a novelty item, and my oldest enjoyed leafing through it.

The biggest advantage of hard copy things like atlases, almanacs, and encyclopedias is to be able to do old-fashioned browsing rather than focused research. I don't know how many times as a kid I would just pick a volume and open it up to see what I found.

But I agree that a question about an almanac is as outdated as a question about a card catalog.

Christy P.

Recently my kids wanted to watch a specific episode of The Muppet Show (which is how we keep them occupied while the adults bottle beer), and the nearly six year old mimed typing in the air while suggesting a search string "ask the internet 'muppet show banana sketch'"  Thanks, Wikipedia.  We keep a running list these days - "Did Pa Ingalls serve in the Civil War? (a shockingly-detailed blog says no, but some of his brothers did) "How old is Baby Carrie anyway?" FWIW, we have just started _On the Banks of Plum Creek_  I'm sure more questions will arise.

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