Written by Shannon

As I write this, my brain is a bit on information overload.

A little bit ago, my son Josh (23) came in to share an interesting graph of how life expectancy has changed over the last century in China. Something he was looking up for a story he is writing.

And the conversation rabbit trailed into comparing life expectancy in the US with China, brainstorming what could have created such drastic impacts, pulling up the GDP of China over time to see if there was a correlation.

And then a discussion of how nutrition and the improvements in medical care would have impacted life expectancy…

And then a foray into the political landscape in China over the last century and how that impacted the resources available to the average citizen.

As we talked and wondered, Josh was pulling up resources and references on his laptop and then that data would springboard us down another rabbit trail of thought and ponderings, and then another Google search to validate and test our theories and assumptions.

At some point, I marveled at the fact that to get this type of economic and historical data before the modern internet, I would have had to spend hours at the library, possibly the college library, and with a reference librarian and a microfiche machine (something Josh has never used).

Instead we were looking up and testing our theories and ideas, and gathering data on the fly, in the course of the conversation. From our living room couch.

And this is our normal.  We’ve done this for as long as Josh can remember, just looked things up on the fly.  From where ever we happen to be.

If he had a question, he just asked and we either hunted down the information he needed or he just looked it up himself.   

He grew up learning to find information — ask questions, seek resources in forums and communities, vet sources, verify facts .. all without leaving home. The world of information has always been at his fingertips.

For a girl who spent a boatload of time in a library growing up, the reality we live in – easy access to information – is stuff of dreams.

But I bet, this is a norm for your teens too. They are constantly finding information to answer their questions, find solutions, investigate options… in their areas of interest.

They may be researching independently, or collaborating with you or others, or you maybe assisting them in the quest for information and resources.

But I bet, your teen spends part of their time researching areas that interest them.

It does not matter if they are trying to find solutions for their latest game, their current interest in fan fiction, or delving into the latest developments in manned space travel.

Or seeing resources on how to improve their cubing times or add visual effects to their latest YouTube video.

Whatever their interests are, or where their rabbit trails lead.

If they are seeking information to solve real world questions and problems, identifying resources, vetting information, and using it to communicate and answer those real world questions and problems.

They are building their research skills…
Their critical thinking skills…
Their information literacy skills…
Their vocabulary skills…
Their “reading for information” skills…
And probably even their communication skills…

Any and all of which is possible fodder for an English credit.

Food for thought.

As always if you have questions, feel free to reach out.

Until next time, Happy Learning!

~Shannon

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