Watching History as it Happened

Watching History as It Happened

Where were you the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? I am guessing a lot of people reading this weren’t even born then. But I was. I was a young primary school student at the time.

Recently the girls and I were watching the DVD series, A Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets*. It is a fascinating docu-drama, telling the story of what could happen in the future, if humans ever develop the technology which will allow us to travel through the solar system, to visit other planets.

After we finished the last episode, one thing led to another, and I found myself saying, “I remember the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.”

The girls opened their eyes wide and said with excitement, “Really? Wow!”
Actually that particular day didn’t seem all that exciting to me. I guess I was too young to appreciate the significance of the first human footstep on the moon. I do remember school was cancelled. We’d been given a holiday so we could stay home and watch the big event on TV.

I wandered up the road to a neighbour’s house where there were quite a few people gathered. Someone turned the big dial on the box shaped TV. There was a flickering of light and a hissing noise, and the round edged screen came to life in all its glorious black and white. I don’t remember much else. Was I too busy playing with my friends?

“It must have been exciting watching Neil Armstrong, Mum. What happened?” my children asked me.

“I don’t remember,” I admitted. Then I had an idea. “Let’s go to Youtube and find out.”

So we all settled in a line along the sofa, and soon we were watching Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, accompanied by those famous words, “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Don’t you love Youtube? We can go back in time and watch events in history, and experience the excitement, the drama, the horror, the humour… just as if we were actually present at those times.

So we saw the first landing on the moon. We’ve also watched videos of Adolf Hitler, Helen Keller, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reading his own poems, Benjamin Britten discussing music, the Titanic and the survivors, the 1957 floods in Holland… The list is endless. If some event or person belongs to modern history there’s a good chance you’ll find the event or those people on Youtube. Of course we read reports and stories about events and people in history, but there’s nothing quite like seeing ‘the real thing.’

As you can see, I didn’t pay much attention to the first broadcast of the first human step on the moon. And I wasn’t able to watch a replay later in the day. Although my children find this hard to believe, we didn’t have video or DVD recorders when I was a child. I lost my chance of witnessing a momentous day in the history of humankind. Except I didn’t lose that chance forever. Here I am watching Neil Armstrong on Youtube as if he walked on the moon only minutes ago, instead of many years. And yes, I can even watch it over and over again.

Does anyone else watch history as it happened?* In the USA, this series seems to be known by the title Voyage to the Planets and Beyond.

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  1. Reply

    Hi Sue. Have you watched the Australian movie The Dish with Sam Neil? I can't remember if it would be suitable for your girls, but we love it (hubby and I).

    1. Reply


      I watched The Dish a long time ago, but I can't remember much except I enjoyed it! It was about the satellite dish at Parkes, maybe. And the landing on the moon? Thank you much for reminding me about this. I'm going to track a copy down!

  2. Reply

    YouTube is so good for homeschooling and learning, in general, isn't it? I've been watching a few old entertainers, this week, on YouTube, and feeling quite nostalgic – even about the ones who were performing before I was born!

    It's funny to think that people used to take months to travel through Europe on foot and, now, we can do it all before morning tea – without taking a single step!

    Anyway, getting off topic, again….great post, Sue.
    God bless:)

    1. Reply

      Now I wonder exactly who you've been watching on Youtube recently. Old entertainers? You'll have to tell me more!

      I just love how we can travel the world through our computers. Technology certainly has changed education. We can experience so many different things without actually going anywhere, and "all before morning tea"! I like that!

      Don't forget to pass on any links to interesting videos you happen to stumble upon!

  3. Reply

    Great post, Sue! I remember exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. I was at my cousin's house and we all gathered around the TV set to watch it. I wasn't as impressed as I should have been, but I remember thinking that it was "cool." I also love youtube for all the history one can watch (I recently viewed a silent movie from the late 1800's with Pope Leo XIII…now that was cool!) God bless…

    1. Reply


      Thank you for sharing your own Neil Armstrong story! I like how we're a similar age and have shared experiences.

      Do you remember what the silent movie was called? Maybe it is easy to hunt down. I vaguely remember the election of John Paul II (I wasn't a Catholic at the time). I might look that up!

      God bless!

  4. Reply

    I have met a few families who don't allow "technology" into their homeschooling lives. I must say from my own experience that my daughters seem to really enjoy and remember a lot when the visual image is included. YouTube is just sensational and TV used in the same way too, can really be a great supplement to anyones learning, just depends what you watch really. We especially love those people that put out songs about historical events and we sing along. My girls adore "the Mesopotomia Rap".

    I was far too young to watch the moon landing (sorry) and you know I don't actually think we got a TV until I was at school. I must ask my folks if they watched it. That has me really interested now to know their thoughts.

    1. Reply


      I am admitting my age when I write posts like this! Never mind. I like being 'old'!

      We always keep our computers close by whenever we are learning something together. We never know when we might want to Google something or hop over to Youtube. I love how information is so accessible. I was talking about this with my girls the other day. With my older children, if they had questions, we had to wait until our next trip to the library before we could find out the answers.

      Oh yes! Those funny rap songs! We like the one about King Charles, the one with 'the hair'. I know that's not a good description! I shall look up "The Mesopotamia Rap".

      Visual images… I have a new camera, and the manual is just overwhelming. But I found some Youtube videos explaining how to use it. I learn so much better when I can actually see something. I'm sure it's the same with kids. And action can be exciting!

    • Karen
    • February 22, 2014

    Hi Sue! I am Karen and I blog at Homeschoolgirls. I saw your link on Christina's 50 best Unschooling Blog Posts and found my way here. Can I just say I absolutely love your blog. I am scribbling ideas and resources as quickly as I can read! I have an only child who is 14 and we unschool/interest led. I actually just started following your "Sue Elvis Writes" on Facebook this morning! And now here I am!! Thank you and I know I am going to be spending tons of time on your blog. Wonderful ideas and resources!!!

    1. Reply


      You are very kind. Thank you! I was really surprised to see my posts on Christina's list. That was exciting for me. l will definitely hop over to your blog so I can meet you and your daughter properly. I hope you'll feel welcome to stop by and say hello any time. Thank you so much for your comment today! Almost forgot: Thank you for 'liking' my Sue Elvis Writes FB page too!

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