That's because some of our most interesting discussions happen at the dinner table. Take last night, for example. I had read an editorial in the paper earlier that day about the dismal results of a study that was done on the level of historical literacy. Whenever I read articles such as this, my children know that the quizzing will begin. I'm always curious if my children know the events and people that are referred to.
I'm happy to report that my children did indeed know who Abraham Lincoln was and why he was important, that they (well, at least one) knew what some of the advantages the American patriots had over the British redcoats, that the phrase "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" came from the Declaration of Independence and the date that document was signed, and that they found the statement that Louis Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon laughably ridiculous.
We were all a bit stumped over the question of which country was an ally to North Korea during the conflict (it was China if you're curious... we had a strong contingent lobbying for the Soviet Union). Jonas Salk was a name that stumped everyone, though now they know he discovered the vaccine for polio.
All this to say, a significant amount of our learning happens at dinner (or lunch or breakfast), when we are all eating together. And while we may start off the with a particular question, that question inevitably leads down other paths and explains why we can start with Abraham Lincoln and end up discussing accents and the question of why the former mayor of Chicago doesn't pronounce "th".
It also explains why my children will be working on memorizing The Gettysburg Address this summer. (And on their end, it's not for some noble desire to imprint great words and ideas on their hearts. It's because I've offered one large chocolate bar to each person who can successfully recite it to me by the end of August.)
I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. Eat dinner together as a family. Enjoy each others company. Learn and discuss things together.