Yesterday the topic of professional dancers who happen to be men came up in conversation, and the next thing I knew, my son and I were watching Dirty Dancing instead of doing math. We stopped the film several times to discuss many of the social dilemmas that came up in the film. Afterwards, checking emails, I found a group invitation to a television acting class for homeschooled kids. And off we went.
This morning we talked about the recent announcement President Obama made in favor of gay marriage, and then we watched this video clip together: Richard Dawkins Interviews the Bishop of Oxford
At the end of the clip, I read the first three chapters of the book of Genesis to him, in order to try to explain the mindset of those who start with a literal interpretation of the Bible in every aspect of their worldview, and those of us who view the Bible through a lens modern understanding.
I asked him, "How does a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis affect a person's values? He said something like, "If God gave the planet and all the animals to man to use as he pleases, then he doesn't have to care about the environment or animal rights." I asked, "Do you agree with that?" and he said, "Of course not. The planet doesn't belong to us but we should take good care of it." We talked about the biblical role of Eve as Adam's "help meet," and how that contradicts our modern understanding of women being equal to man. We discussed how in a literal interpretation of the Bible, just from the story of Adam and Eve, one could interpret that a man can't be a helpmeet to another man, and a woman can't be a helpmeet to another woman. But if one is open to embracing a modern understanding of nature and what it means to be human, then all adult humans deserve to have an adult human mate, regardless of sexual orientation. (The "adult" and "human" qualifiers were added because of all the silly talk of legal gay marriage leading to marriages between dogs and humans. Woof.)
Every day we visit Time Magazine's Light Box on the web, and as we look at the pictures, we talk about what they mean and look up the locations on the globe. The pictures are sometimes a little graphic, and we talk about that - the conditions that exist elsewhere in the world, the struggles that other people face, and why we should care.
Despite these little educational detours, the young man is making progress. We are finding that little twenty minute bursts of math and spelling drills work better when sprinkled throughout the day than trying to knuckle down and study for hours at a time.