Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

An idea for a summer camp for high-schoolers

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As I said, I took most of the weekend off, and enjoyed a good book. One that was given to me as a gift for my birthday.
And as a result, I created a course/summer camp – something that would be fun to offer to kids the high-school range of age.
And yes, I know, I know, I said that I would not think about work and all that, but then, what with eating some ice cream and re-watching some old Haruhi Suzumiya anime and all that, ideas sort of collided and I sketched this course and even so it’s really OK – no, really! – because they will never allow me to do it anyway, so it’s, in the end, a flight of fancy on a summer afternoon.
And yet, boy I’d like to do it!
Let me tell you about it.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707The book I have been reading is called The Knowledge, and the sub-title is How To Rebuild Our World After An Apocalypse.
The author, Lewis Dartnell, has put together a great compendium of practical knowledge.
The premise: our civilization’s gone, how do we reboot the system?
The volume includes the hands-on practices and the minimum theory needed to be able to keep society going, while being the stepping stones to help the survivors discover everything else that does not fit into the book.
So, a non-fiction book that starts from a fictional premise and works to build enough knowledge and curiosity to make it easier to go on from there.
Because this is no short-term survivalist handbook, teaching you how find food or build bow and arrows – this is a science book, that teaches you how to reboot a technology-based civilization.

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Now, wouldn’t this make a great summer course/camp/thing for high-schoolers?
They could do practical projects, like building a windmill, and at the same time discover the scientific principles behind it, and also acquire a lot of knowledge on other matters.
Because catastrophes are not a thing of fiction. We could talk about the Black Death, or the extinction of dinosaurs, or the current environmental crisis…
220px-The_World_Without_Us_(US_cover)In fact I think we could do most of the course using just two books: Dartnell’s reboot manual, and Alan Weisman’s The World After Us, the all-in-one essay to what happens if humanity goes extinct.
And then, yes, maybe throw in a few odd issues of Maker Magazine
It would be a smash.

  • History.
  • Economy.
  • Mathematics (you can teach maths with zombies – ain’t that neat?)
  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Physics.
  • Geology.
  • Engineering.

The lot, while having fun.
Because it would have this apocalyptic vibe that is fun, and is part of some of the most popular shows out there, from The Walking Dead to Into the Badlands to the Mad Max franchise and the Predator Cities series whose first movie is coming out, to the FallOut games and then anime and comics and what else.
And it would not require such a great expenditure, or what.
It would be a very basic thing, logistically. We could do it in the school’s courtyard.

Now I don’t know how things are where you are sitting now – here where I sit, we get summer school for primary school children, and some sports activities like a football (that’s soccer for you Yanks) school for boys.
But high-schoolers are supposed to get bored out of their brains, roaming the town and spending money on soft drinks and ice creams, while gossiping and basically becoming dead inside like their work-eat-TV-sleep parents.
Just imagine get them to work together in rebooting our civilization.
It would be fun, it would be collaborative and competitive, it would be intellectually stimulating.
It would be for boys and girls, no discrimination, no difference, because the world as we knew it ended, and we have to start anew.
You could even throw in a first aid course – that the kids don’t get in school anymore.

So yes, this is how I spent my weekend, and it was fun, and I hate the idea that should I offer this to any school or local administration, they’d just stare at me like I was just off the flying saucer.
But it would be great!

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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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