Is Wikipedia Better Than A Real Encyclopedia? Yes.

[homeschooling] "Encyclopedia" has its own entry on Wikipedia. How cool is that? Let me tell you how I reached this thought.

Say what you will about South Park (an animated show on Comedy Central), I love it.
Yes, I know there can be some crass jokes in there. But a lot of the jokes are intelligent too. This is what I was trying to convince my husband of when he was like, "I know." Then I was like, "No, you don't understand. This is a really good show. Like, South Park has five Emmy's."

But let me back up a little more. Before I knew South Park had any Emmy's.

We're currently staying in an extended-stay suite. They have cable. We don't. Comedy Central plays South Park back to back to back at night on cable. South Park is one of my favorite shows. So, needless to say, South Park's been on a lot. Well, I guess I do need to say, because you're probably wondering what my husband and I are doing "letting" our 9, 5, and 1 year olds watch South Park.

We are radical unschoolers, and we don't believe in arbitrary censoring in our home. If there is something that makes someone uncomfortable to watch, we try not to have it on when that person is around. It's not necessary, but since we have different tastes, it's a consideration we all appreciate. Anyway, South Park doesn't bother any of us. And since it's one of my favorite shows, Hyunsoo likes watching it, the kids get some laughs out of it here and there, and none of us mind hearing swear words, we watch it sometimes - especially when we have cable when we're at the extended-stay with not much else to do.

I was already looking at Wikipedia to find out why some Carl's Jr.s are called Hardee's (they were two separate chains until Carl's Jr. bought Hardee's in 1997) when Hyunsoo says, "I've never seen a South Park episode this long." I figured it was another South Park movie called Stick of Truth. Neither of were sure so ... I looked it up!

I Googled it and it turns out The Stick of Truth is a video game based on South Park. So, I Googled "south park game of thrones" and found out we were watching one of a three episode story arc based on Game of Thrones (a very popular show on HBO). Then I learn that South Park earned an Emmy for this episode. You can put together the rest.

No. Wait. That just brings you back to how cool South Park is. I didn't bring it back to the Wikipedia "encyclopedia" entry yet.

After I told Hyunsoo that South Park has five Emmy's, he wondered if five is even a lot. I looked up how many Emmy's The Simpsons have. I looked up several all time records for Emmy's. Hyunsoo lost interest before I did, but we both learned more than we had intended to - and I am more than okay with that.

Wikipedia is SO COOL. Yes, I know that "just anyone on the internet can write a Wikipedia article". But that doesn't make the site any less awesome. The fact that you can easily qualify to write or edit a Wikipedia entry (at least say it correctly if you're gonna knock it) is what makes it so awesome! This is why a lot of their info is so up-to-the minute accurate. I was able to look up how Carl's Jr. bought Hardee's in 1997 like it was an entry from a "real" encyclopedia.

I've always been pretty curious. Ask my parents; they knew. They bought me a set of encyclopedias when I was FIVE. And another when I was older, because - well, you know - they had to update them! Anyway, while I wish I could honestly say I spent hours and hours of my childhood reading them, I probably only popped them open once every few months. But it was awesome having a way to quench my curiosity any time I wanted.

I am going to teach my children about encyclopedias. I will show them how they are used. I'll do this to share something that was important to me as a child with them. They like that kind of stuff. But I will teach them how to use Wikipedia. And I will teach them to cross-reference the information on more reputable websites and so forth.

A person can learn a lot from reading an encyclopedia or Wikipedia. I won't force my kids to use Wikipedia or the several mini-encyclopedias we own (as much as I love them, I don't want to own a whole set of real encyclopedias - we're a military family), but I am definitely going to be using Wikipedia for personal enjoyment and for homeschooling purposes. I hope my kids discover how awesome quenching their curiosity is in whatever way works best for them.

p.s. There is also a website called Wiktionary that is like Wikipedia but a dictionary. You can look up the term "on fleek" (I did) and read about it as if it were written for a "real" dictionary.

p.p.s. All the hyperlinks on the page are from the tabs I had open when I decided to make a blog post about this.

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