A two hour hop to Heathrow from Berlin and another fourteen hour flight heralded that a new leg of world travel was about to begin.
South America has always proved elusive. Visiting the americas during summers and Christmas meant catching up with family and friends and not leaving much time to explore our sister continent south of the equator. Boarding a plane in Germany in the middle of winter and stepping off in Buenos Aires in the middle of summer was a bit confusing for Ava as we usually hugged lines of latitude with trips across the big pond of the pacific ocean.
“How can it be a summer here?” She asked.
“It has to do with the tilt of the earth.” I told her. “The northern hemisphere is farther away from the sun in its winter, but the southern half is closer.”
“I don’t get it.”
The former science teacher leaped into action as I then proceeded to model the earth as an apple with a nearby lamp as the sun and she understood completely. Take that flat earthers.
San Telmo Market
Buenos Aires is the land of Malbec, tangos and steak and we sought to try every one. Whereas in Berlin my blond beard and blue eyed appearance made me look like a German (Guten tag herr…?), Ava and Lisa looked the part with their olive skin and dark hair so locals would start up with them in Spanish at every turn. Being in a region where we could speak the local language was immensely insightful and I regretted not learning more Arabic while in the middle east.
Our Airbnb was a 10 minute walk to the historic San Telmo Market and we were lucky enough to arrive on market day when the streets were aligned with artisans, antique sellers, and clothing shops. The indoor market has a number of shops selling produce, flowers, but the food kiosks are the real pull. Empanadas with cheese and chorizo. Grilled rib eyes with potatoes. We even found a Vietnamese restaurant that served up a pretty good ‘Buon Tit Nuoung‘. We were home.
The presidential palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Buenos Aires and gets its name from the rose colored bricks. Sitting at the east end of Plaza de Mayo which hosts demonstrations and political rallies, this might be one of the more intricately carved facades in the world and evolved from first a fort to customs house, post office and eventually the building which it is now. The old colonial architecture of Buenos Aires was completely different than anything we’d ever seen thus far on our trip.
Khan Academy Comes to a Close
We’ve been using ‘Khan Academy’ to support Ava’s math curriculum and since she finished the last of her 14 units of study it was time to take the ‘end of course challenge‘ after reviewing over the last few weeks. With so many units of study, some topics only gave 1 or 2 problems to show ‘mastery’ so a simple error could incorrectly gauge that a student didn’t learn a topic at all.
As a teacher, I’ve always believed that students should be given multiple opportunities to show their learning and teachers should assess learning when the student is ready, not vice versa. Ava’s early attempts at passing the course challenge were met with failure but retakes allowed her to learn from her mistakes, improved her self confidence and raised her course understanding with every attempt.
The mission of education should not be to separate students that learn quickly from the ones that don’t; after all, all students are different and learning is anything but static. Don’t you think?