In Like Flynn

Every once in a while it’s fun to just pick up a toy sword and pretend you’re Errol Flynn.

photo 3 (16)I’m often surprised by what I see as I cross campus. When I leave the administration building I might find the quad filled with a line of ASB students connected by hula hoops trying out ideas they can use for Spirit Day, science students measuring shadows, or history students making podcasts about the Revolutionary War.

It’s fun to know that on any day almost anything could happen under the watchful eyes of our great teachers. Today when I stepped out of my office I got a surprise even bigger than stop motion videos in art class or Spanish skits. It was as if I’d stepped into a production of Captain Blood. The kids were sword fighting!

photo 1 (5)I’ll admit that middleschoolers with swords sounds like a bad idea. These are the same kids we have to remind to stop running at lunch and leave each others’ backpacks alone.

But…

With a smile and guiding hand, their intrepid teacher was out amongst the swashbucklers, talking them through safety and strategy, showing them how to choreograph a sword fight from attack to controlled collapse. I watched them for a spell, and then got the nod to join in.

I haven’t had as much fun wielding a stick since I was eight and thought I was Luke Skywalker.

photo 2 (20)Hands on learning takes many forms, from marching in the band to multi-media, from frog dissections to creating our yearbook, and seeing students actively engaging in curriculum is an inspiring reminder of what is right in education. Focused on what they were doing, these kids who were memorizing the steps of a safe sword fight showed a profound ability to bring attention to something that mattered. If they didn’t pay attention, they could end up with a dowel in the side of the head.

None did! We’re all safe here!

Watching the sword fighting today got me thinking about the importance of students understanding the relevance of whatever subject matter is being studied. Math, English, History, Science, all have applications to the world our students live in. Great teachers help students see why learning what they learn is important, and as a result these teachers see their students able to focus as they feel the urgency to “get it.” Our thespians did, and they showed that focus and fun can go hand in hand.

photo 5 (7)What will I see when I cross campus tomorrow?

It could be a poetry recital or a recycled art installation. It could be CE Smart students flying airplanes or science students launching rockets.

Whatever it is, I know I’ll see students engaged in learning, and teachers at their sides helping to guide them as they make meaningful connections with their world and what they’re learning.

If I play my cards right, they might even let me join in.

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