Delight Directed Learning Example from Homeschooling Highway

Delight Directed Learning is a term used in the homeschooling circles for children that learn best by studying topics that are of interest to them.

My daughter, Abby, loves history, trivia, and fun-facts. Through the combination of these three items, she wanted to find, research, and write about people that she finds interesting for this year’s English and history class.

As I was thinking about her request, I realized that there are so many advantages and learning opportunities that can occur with her learning this way.

So, to keep her on track, I created some guidelines for her school year.

  • First, I asked her to use her summer months to research and find heroes that she wanted to look into more.
  • Her hero list should go from A to Z, if possible. In this way I knew that at least 26 weeks of research and writing would be accomplished.
  • If there were multiple people for the more common alphabet letters she could always do more than one week for that alphabet letter. For example, she might find a lot of people for the letter “S”.
  • I asked her to save her list of website addresses and other resources that she found so that when it came time for her to research and write during the school year, she would be faster at finding her information that she had already collected.
  • Each week, her hero paper would be typed, edited, and printed out for her school notebook.
  • Each week, she would also add her hero to this post. This way she will be learning additional computer and blogging skills.

So, I hope that you will find Abby’s “Heroes That Deserve to go Down in History” series interesting. Maybe you’ll read about someone you never heard about before.

Come back every week to see more of Abby’s heroes.

Vasilil Arkhipov: The Man Who Saved the World From a Nuclear War

The Setting

During the Cold War, the world’s two greatest powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, were at the edge of war over the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, ninety miles off the coast of Florida.

In July of 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered the naval blockade of Cuba, after learning that the USSR’s military was making missile shipments to Cuba and were helping them with the construction of new military facilities there with the help of their Soviet technicians.

The premier of the Soviet Union at the time, Nikita Khrushchecv, later stated that he never imagined that the naval blockade would be the US’ reaction to them defending Cuba.

The Instructions

Around September of 1962, a Soviet Submarine B-59, received an order from Soviet leadership to stop in the Caribbean just short of the American blockade around Cuba.

But once there, they were spotted by the US’ warships, and dove deeper to conceal their presence.

The B-59 had been traveling for over a month, and their ac was not working properly.

Also, because they had gone deeper, they were unable to communicate with Russia, making them fail to keep up to date with the latest developments as to some technical issues, making them clueless as to what was happening on the surface.

One of the men on the submarine, Anatoly Andreev wrote in his journal about the conditions that the men on the submarine were going through:

“For the last four days, they didn’t even let us come up to the periscope depth… My head is bursting from the stuffy air… Today three sailors fainted from overheating again… The regeneration of air works poorly, the carbon dioxide content [is] rising, and the electric power reserves are dropping.

Those who are free from their shifts are sitting immobile, staring at one spot… Temperature in the sections is above 50° C [122° F].

Confusion Develops

The US then started dropping non-lethal depth charges, to try to get the submarine to surface, so that they would be able to identify it.

What they didn’t know though, was that the submarine was carrying a nuclear tipped torpedo with roughly the power that had destroyed Hiroshima.

Unfortunately, the crew of the B-59 were unaware of the reason of the depth charges, and thought they were seeing the start of a nuclear war, and feared they were under attack.

So, Captain Valentin Savitsky ordered the firing of their biggest weapon, the ten-kiloton nuclear torpedo to target the giant aircraft carrier, the USS Randolf, which was leading the US task force.

The three captains on the submarine, Valentin Savitsky, Vasili Arkhipov, and Ivan Maslennikov, were empowered to act without permission from Moscow, but all three of the captains had to agree to shoot it.

Maslennikov had agreed to fire the torpedo, but Arkhipov said no. Thankfully though, Vasili Arkhipov was able to convince Savitsky and Maslennikov that the US was only trying to identify the submarine, and that there wasn’t an actual nuclear war happening on the surface.

The submarine then surfaced and headed back to Russia, without the US ever requesting to come aboard or make any inspections. America did not find out that the B-59 was carrying a nuclear missile until decades later.

The Negotiations

Soviet premier Khrushchev offered the dismantling of the bases his country had built in Cuba in exchange for the promise of Kennedy to lift the blockade and not invade Cuba.

Thus, a major crisis was prevented, and the fear of a nuclear war was replaced by a mild reconciliation.

What Would Have Happened if Arkhipov Had Agreed to Fire the Torpedo

Many people believe that if the torpedo had been fired a nuclear war would have broken out.

The Guardian wrote, “had it been launched, the fate of the world would have been very different: the attack would probably have started a nuclear war which would have caused global devastation, with unimaginable numbers of civilians deaths.”

Vasili Arkhipov’s heroic moment in time, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, didn’t become public until 2002, by former Soviet officer Vadim Orlov, who was on the submarine with him.

What Happened to Vasili Arkhipov?

Arkhipov served in the navy until the mid-1980’s, when he retired, right after being promoted to Admiral.

He died in 1999, at the age of seventy-two, due to health complications caused by radiation that he had been exposed to during his naval career.

In 2017, he was awarded with the “Future of Life Award” by a US-based organization called Future of Life Institute.

Andree Borrel: First Female to Parachute Over Occupied France

Life Before the War

Andree Borrel was born in France on November 18, 1919. She was born into a family with working class parents and lived on the outskirts of Paris.

At the age of fourteen, Andree left school to work at a dress shop, to help support her family, since her father, Louis, had died a few years before when Andree was eleven.

In 1933, Andree and her family moved to Paris, where Andree worked as a shop assistant in a bakery called the Boulangerie Pujo.

Two years after that, she started working at a different bakery called the Bazar d’ Amsterdam.

Beginning of the War

When WW2 broke out, Andree and her mother moved to Toulon, France. There Andree trained with the Red Cross and joined the Association des Dames de France.

She worked in Beaucaire, treating wounded soldiers for the French Army.

The Start of her Resistance Work

In 1941, the hospital she was working at closed. So, Andree and her coworker, Maurice Dufor, joined the French Resistance.

They joined the network called the Pat O’Leary, or otherwise known as the PAT Escape Line. It ran from the Belgian border to the Spanish frontier and was the first escape network in France.

Led by Albert Guerisse, PAT Escape Line helped British airmen who had been shot down over Nazi-controlled France and helped them get back to Britain.

Over the next six months, Andree and Maurice began operating Villa Rene-Therese, the last safe house in the PAT Escape Line.

It was located near the border of Spain, which made it easier for the British airmen to cross over the border without being spotted by the Nazis.


In December of 1941, one of the networks’ English courier’s Harold ‘aul’ Cole betrayed many of the conductors on the northern PAT Escape Lines, after he had been arrested in Lille.

Preventing Capture

Ponzan Vidal, a Spanish anarchist, led a group of conductors, that included Andree and Maurice, out of France to prevent their capture.

They made their way to Portugal, where Andree worked at the Free French Propaganda Office at the British Embassy in Lisbon.

Joining the SOE

In 1942, Andree traveled to London. She was immediately taken to the Royal Patriotic School, where she was interrogated to see if she was a double agent or not.

But instead, Andree was recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was given the code name “Denise”.

The Mission

At nine o’clock on the night of September 24, 1942, the pilot officer R.P. Wilkin flew the Whitley bomber Z9428 on a mission called Operation ARTIST.

His mission was to drop Andree Borrel and another woman Lise de Baissac near the River Loire in France.

They became the first women agents to be parachuted into France.

They landed in the village of Boisrenard, which was close to the city of Mer, and stayed with the French Resistance for a couple of days.

Rejoining the Resistance

 Lise de Baissac went to Poiters to start a new network, while Andree went to join a different network called the PROSPER network.

It was led by Francis Suttill and included Jack Agazarian and Gilbert Norman.

Her Position

While working for the network, she took part in supervising weapons drops, sabotage, and raiding a power station.

In 1943, she was promoted, and became second in command in the PROSPER network.

Captured and Executed

On June 23, 1943, Herri Dericourt, codename “Gilbert”, their French Air Movements Officer, allegedly was a double agent and betrayed them.

Three key members of the PROSPER network, Andree Borrel, Francis Suttill, and Gilbert Norman, were arrested.

Andree was taken to Avenue Foch, the Gestapo Headquarters in Paris. She was interrogated and then sent to the Fresnes Prison.

On May 13, 1944, she was transported to Nazi Germany.

July 6, 1944, she was sent to the concentration camp at Natzweiler, and was executed later that day.


A few years later, the government of France awarded Andree the Croix de Guerre in recognition of her heroic sacrifice for her country’s freedom.

Also, in the concentration camp where she died, there is a plaque with her name on it, in honor of her.

John Clem: The Youngest NCO in American History

Early Life

John Clem was born on August 13, 1851, in Newark, Ohio.

In 1861, when Johnny, as everyone called him, was nine years old, his mother was killed in a train accident, and Johnny ran away from home to join the Union Army.

Joining the Army

He first tried to join the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, but they refused to accept him since he was so young. He then tried to join the 22nd Michigan but was rejected by them also.

Johnny wasn’t willing to take no for an answer, so he followed the 22nd Michigan everywhere they went. Eventually they accepted him and made him their unofficial drummer boy.

Since he was only nine years old, he wasn’t old enough to officially enlist. So the other soldiers pitched in to pay his salary of thirteen dollars a month, until he was able to enlist in 1863.

Battle of Chickamauga

In September of 1863, Union forces started on the Chickamauga Campaign, under the command of General William Starke Rosecrans.

During the battle of Chickamauga, the Confederates were able to push out about a third of the Union forces.

On the second day of fighting, September 20th, the remaining forces, including the 22nd Michigan, created a defense at a place called Horseshoe Ridge.

As darkness fell, the Union forces were forced to retreat into Chattanooga, Tennessee. Unfortunately though, part of the 22nd Michigan was surrounded by the Confederate forces.

Johnny was spotted by a Confederate colonel who told him to surrender. But instead of surrendering, Johnny shot the colonel with the sawed down rifle he had been given.

Some sources say that he killed the colonel, while others say he just wounded him. But whatever happened, it earned him the nickname The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga.

What He’s Known For

Because he shot the colonel, Johnny was promoted to sergeant at the age of twelve, making him the youngest soldier to become a non-commissioned officer (NCO) in U.S. Army history.

Johnny also received a medal for shooting the colonel, which also made him the youngest decorated soldier.

Captured and Exchanged

In October of 1863, Johnny was captured by a Confederate patrol, while in Georgia as a train guard.

Later that same year, Johnny was part of an exchange group and was transferred to the Army of Cumberland and became a mounted orderly.


Johnny fought at Perryville, Mufreesboro, Kennesaw, and Atlanta, where he was wounded twice.

 September of 1864, Johnny was discharged because of his injuries.

Rejoining the Army

Johnny finished high school and graduated in 1870.

 In 1871, he joined the National Guard and became the commander of the Washington Rifles. He wanted to get into the U.S. Military Academy but failed the exam twice.

After the second time he failed, President Grant appointed him as 2nd lieutenant in the 24th U.S. Infantry.

Married Life

In 1875, Johnny married Anita Rosetta and stayed married to her until she died in 1899.

A few years later in 1903, he married Betsie Sullivan.


In 1915, Johnny retired from the Army, right before the U.S. joined WW1. He retired at the rank of Major General.

Johnny was the last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the U.S. Army.


Johnny died on May 13, 1937, at the age of eight-five and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


There was a song written about Johnny called “Johnny Clem” by Fess Parker.

There was also a rumor that Johnny was a part of the Battle of Shiloh, and that he was wounded by some shrapnel in the battle, giving him the nickname Johnny Shiloh.

But the 22nd Michigan wasn’t formed at the time of the Battle of Shiloh, so it’s very unlikely that he was a part of that battle.

However, in 1963, they did create a movie about Johnny called “Johnny Shiloh”.

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