Dave Eggers set up his pirates shop as a way to secure a property to house his writing workshops, as you will learn from this video. Since this, a crop of similar projects have sprouted, including a superheroes shop in New York and a whole diverse range of chapters under the 826 umbrella.
Making learning relevant to learners is one of the hardest tasks we have. Dave Eggers discovered, by accident, the lure of practical imagination alongside the power of mentoring. His discovery was to go beyond just asking children to write down or to talk about their imaginative musings but to actively imagine that they can step into their very own imagination and take an active role in them. Alongside this, he put people who had already found their passion for writing in the same space as those who were yet to find theirs. Together, they get to scope ideas, draft their dreams and publish their imaginations.
When we ask students to get creative or ‘use their imagination’, what is it that we are asking them to do? What do we hope to see? What do we want them to show us? How do we want them to feel about their learning when they activate their imagination? How can we give them the necessary space and time to develop the confidence to really develop their most powerful ideas? How far can we let them really run with their ideas? How far could they go…? If thinking creatively is all about making connections between previously unrelated concepts or objects, then what Dave Eggers has done here works really well.
Consider the topic of Pirates or Superheroes and how you might make some links to curriculum topics and the characters themselves:
Maths: What kind of insurance plan would Batman need for Robin? What sort of premium would he need to pay to protect against damage to the Bat Cave ?
Geography: What route should Captain Jack Sparrow take if he sailed from the Bahamas to the South Coast of Ireland?
RE: What code of ethics would Spiderman enforce if he were made Prime Minister?
Citizenship: What role in government would The Green Lantern be most suited to?
PSHE: What health issues would Blackbeard need to be educated about and how could he and his crew make sure they stayed healthy?
History: What knowledge, dispositions and skills would a superhero have needed to prevent WW2?
Science: What physiological differences exist between the Justice League of America? Compare these with X-Men and evaluate the ways in one group might be more powerful than the other.
And so on…if you have more reflections or inspirational ideas connected with this, please leave a comment.