New Jen's Horde

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Go, go, Godzilla!

As you know from reading our post Elvis School, we are pretty relaxed with our homeschooling, preferring to follow the kids' interests down the rabbit hole rather than utilize much in the way of prepared curriculum.

I am always surprised by where these "distractions" lead, so I thought I'd show how we have found ourselves launched smack into the middle of World War II, by Godzilla of all things!


Most people think of Godzilla as a cheesy Japanese monster film, and some of the later movies in the series really were. But, the original, Gojira (1954), was a serious film made in response to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in August of 1945. At that time, less than 10 years later, the Japanese people were still reeling from the devastation of the attacks, and the radiation poisoning and cancer deaths that followed. As we dug deeper into this iconic monster movie, we found that Godzilla was an allegorical tale of man's inhumanity to man, and when the scientist sacrifices himself at the end of the film to keep his creation (an oxygen destroyer that can kill Godzilla but will eventually be used as a superweapon against humans) the movie makes its point with startling clarity.

So, we popped Gojira and the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagazaki on our timeline, and discussed what happens during and after a nuclear attack. We went from there to discuss how the U.S. came to be involved in the war in the first place (Pearl Harbor), and what was going on in the rest of the war.

We talked about the Nazi Party in Germany, and their aggression into neighboring countries. And we talked about the concentration camps, and tried to get our heads around what 12 million dead could mean. (This illustration of 10 million pennies helped a little, but ultimately there's no way to understand this kind of ruin.)

Our discussion of the atomic bomb led to Albert Einstein's part in its inception, and to his feelings that it should never be used. The kids have been interested in Einstein for quite a while now, so it's nice when he fits into something new they're digging into.

Also, we studied geography, learning where all of these countries are in relation to the U.S.

I have to add that I didn't sit down and write all of this out and cover it with the kids, we asked each other questions and since the information was relevant to them they soaked it up. This discussion has been going on little by little over time, earlier the focus has been on Japan and its physical characteristics, with the march into WWII happening today.

They're still interested, so I think we'll be doing this for a while. There are so many fascinating things about WWII, that we could be led all over the place!

Very cool! So much feeds into one topic and influences are found all over.
I love it! This was the way I was homeschooled and it opened so many doors for different things!
I love that penny site...very cool!
If we lived nearby, my son could come over and talk your kids into the ground on the subject of World War II. My kid is obsessed with it. He watches the History Channel like an old veteran who just wants to remember the glory days.
Taylor and my dad really connect on this subject, since one of my dad's comments once was, "My favorite war is World War II." Well, at least they have a bond, right?
You are doing a great job with your kids. They will retain so much more because you are making learning enjoyable. What a wonderful mommie you are!!!
Japanese Godzilla movies are great.
I think your homeschooling style is wonderful, but then, I'm a big Godzilla fan.

Re: the Japanese, I find it sad that they don't cover the Bushido code's aggressive role in the war in their history books today. You'd almost think the Japanese were out playing with flowers when the awful Americans dropped the atomic bombs on them for no good reason.
Yes, cube, it's interesting to see how they perceive these events now. I find it particularly ironic that they attacked the U.S., who'd made it very clear they weren't going to get involved, just to drag U.S. forces into the war and get their own butts kicked in a big way. Did they not think that was going to happen?
Their arrogance got in the way of their judgement back then. I just think they should know better now. They should be teaching their young the lessons of the past so that they don't repeat the mistakes.
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