Ahoy Matey! I found a pirate’s hat!

Ahoy Matey! I found a pirate’s hat!

Back in May I wrote a rant, Looking for a pirate’s hat, about the importance of creativity in a child’s life.  While doing a lesson on jobs, I realized that I couldn’t find a pirate’s hat anywhere around here (guess “who am I?”) and, after surveying the kinds of toys I found, bemoaned the lack of creativity in many children’s lives. Well, I finally found a pirate’s hat.  In fact, I found three different ones!!  And where did I have to go to find them?? The Outer Banks of North Carolina, of course.  We all know about Blackbeard and his ilk.  These pirates plied the ocean and left treasures (and ships) at the bottom of the sea. The Outer Banks is filled with history and a ton of fun activities for children (and their parents, and their grandparents) to explore.  So, Ahoy Matey, that’s just what we did. And that’s how I found my pirate hats!

So, when I read the latest article on the firing of another 98 teachers from DC Schools (see here), I immediately thought about the students those teachers taught.  Having taught in DC for 15 years, I know the kind of challenges those teachers faced and know about the daily lives of many of those students.  And, boy, many of those students could really use a pirate’s hat!  The lack of creativity, the lack of imagination, the lack of curiosity, the lack of hope, is so apparent on the face of many of the kids I taught in DC.  And that’s probably what many of those 98 newly-fired teachers looked at each day. So, what was DCPS’s answer to their failing schools?  Testing, of course.  And then more testing. And when the students test scores failed to improve, their teachers were fired! P-lee-ze.

I have a better idea.  Take those kids on a trip! Let them explore the world around them. Show them life outside the boundaries of the District of Columbia (insert any place of your choice).  Put them, and their parents, on a bus. Take them to the Outer Banks (insert any place of your choice).  Take them through some of the museums, tell them about pirates (ALL kids love pirates!), let them dress up as pirates and role-play and have fun!  Let them use their imaginations to see what life was like hundreds of years ago. Let them explore an Indian village.  Take them out in the Roanoke Sound on a “real pirate ship” and find buried treasure!  I guarantee that many of those children have never left their own neighborhoods, let alone their city.  How can they be expected to understand the importance of learning, of graduating from high school (not even talking college, here), of growing up and getting a job, when they don’t even know what the world has to offer?

My grandkids are lucky.  They get to go to lots of places.  They get to use their imaginations. They go to museums, go to the beach, go to Redskins football games, go to Nationals baseball games, get to go on pirate ships!   But, not all kids are that lucky.  My point is this: schools must change the way they do business.  By this I mean that test scores, by themselves, are meaningless.  Without creativity, imagination, and hope for a future, all the good test scores in the world mean nothing. And this is a fact.

So, I say, load up the buses.  Bring out the maps.  Point in any direction. Put on your pirate hats (a metaphor for creativity), and say, Ahoy Matey!!  Let’s go!!

This is my rant today.

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