Zombie Survival Training 101

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Aengus
Tags: , , , ,

Several of my homeschooling lists seem to be discussing both video games and homeschoolers’ superior preparedness for the coming zombie apocalypse.

My favorite comment (from Morgana, a woman I have no doubt I’d be friends with IRL) came in a thread about strangers grilling us about whether our kids are really learning anything outside of school. Her response to them is a blunt but honest “None of your business.” But —

If I get any further questions, such as what we learn at home, I tell them that I only teach the basics: How to survive a zombie invasion, ways to take out a ninja, and how to run a successful pirate ship.

One of Aengus’s favorite video games is the Call of Duty franchise, particularly the Nazi Zombies minigame. He believes zombies really are possible and that the government is,  in fact, researching them in Area 51. Since I am a big believer in the educational value of video games, even the ones that involve shooting supernatural creatures, I’ve always  loosely considered zombies part of our “curriculum.” But as open-minded as I am to the academic potential of video games, I was unprepared for what happened this week.

When we went to the book store the other day, Noah bought some manga (language arts, art, cultural studies). Aengus? He bought The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, by Max Brooks.

When I started reading this to Aengus, I was pleasantly surprised by the academic topics we touched on. By page nine, we had discussed wilderness survival (life skills), first aid (life skills, health), the afterlife (religious studies), viruses versus bacteria and the transmission of each (health), sex (health), how nerves and the brain work, (biology)  the various body functions necessary for life (biology), reflexes and instincts (biology), and I had defined several vocabulary words for him.

For example: When describing zombies’ five (or six?) senses, Brooks writes

Zombies have, literally, no physical sensations. All nerve receptors throughout the body remain dead after reanimation. This is truly their greatest and most terrifying advantage over the living. We, as humans, have the ability to experience physical pain as a signal of bodily damage. Our brain classifies such sensations, matches them to the experience that instigated them, and then files the information away for use as a warning against future harm. It is this gift of physiology and instinct that has allowed us to survive as a species. It is why we value virtues such as courage, which inspires people to perform actions despite warnings of danger. The inability to recognize and avoid pain is what makes the walking dead so formidable. Wounds will not be noticed and, therefore, will not deter an attack. Even if a zombie’s body is severely damaged, it will continue to attack until nothing remains.

It turns out that in the context of something utterly ridiculous, something created for pure fun, we can extrapolate the study of any number of “academic” subjects. Can you imagine the discussion that follows reading such a paragraph? My son stays home with me, reading this stuff with me, so we actually had that discussion. Multiply that times 365, then by eighteen, and I’m pretty sure his education will be fairly broad by the time he moves out.

On top of which, he’ll survive with all the other homeschoolers.

Aengus’s interest in video games sparked his interest in this book, but also in  iPhone apps, online games, and many television shows, each of which has led to their own discussions. I am a book lover, but as an effective means to learn about the world, I’d say books come in dead last. Helpful and informative, but only in a supporting role. Video games, television, and other electronic media bring learning alive in a very real way.

My kids’ education isn’t leaving a paper trail. It’s leaving body parts.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. mecarol says:

    Yes! Love this post. I’m continually surprised by what my kids learn from video games and TV. Right now, Lego Indiana Jones has them into archaeology and geography. But they’re young yet; zombie studies are on the horizon.

  2. Tammy says:

    I do have this inkling that creatures of the paranormal are creeping in. Perhaps not how to battle Zombies, we will need Aengus’ help there, but an understanding of ghosts, vampires, lycans, etc are definitely becoming part of the norm around our house. Followed very closely by super human qualities, woes, abilities, etc. All combined with the physics of how to best destroy a town or city and how to rebuild it after the apocalypse. LOL

    Homeschoolers will survive!

  3. I don’t agree that — in general — books come in dead last. (Of course, this is me you’re talking to). I think it depends on the person. However I have come around, reluctantly, to the realization that video games and movies are richer sources of learning *for some people* than books. Including, apparently, my own kids. They pick on me for being such a bookworm. Ah, well.

    Awesome post! Zombies are completely and fabulously BAD ASS. And when the zombie apocalypse comes, I am completely relying on my crazy gamers — James and John — to spectacularly save my ass!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s