by Rebecca Thomas
“It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo Sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast.’’
-Yuval Noah Harari
Fiction enables us to not merely imagine things, but to do so collectively. This storytelling and imagination allows us to think cooperatively and flexibly in large numbers. Believing in common narratives allows large numbers of strangers to cooperate. Over the years people have woven incredibly complex networks of stories to bring things into existence, for example, most millionaires believe in the existence of money. As time goes by our imagined reality becomes ever powerful.
An accidental fictional narrative that Steve and I have stumbled across in our journey to help connect our educators and build collective efficacy at a time when they faced uncertainties was the introduction of our whimsical words, our educational jargon, our Edu speak.
The impact these words had on our readers went far beyond our imagination. Educators, no matter where they were from, related to all of them in some way. Unintentionally we had stumbled across daily encounters we all shared. These words became a way to remember why we love our jobs - recollecting what a fun place school should be; filled with magic and hope.
How many of us has had a visit from the *Cable Gremlin preventing us from using our devices on the weekend? How many of us have been in a *Worm Knot hui? How many of us have had our students understand things explained better by a *Pharaoh Prawn?
There are so many connections we share with each other in our daily experiences, sometimes we just don’t get chance to share them with each other, we need to slow down and enjoy a kōrero with a friend about the *Pirate Smurry day you have just had with your 9C class. These stories will help build efficacy, some cohesion in the chaos of Term 4.
It is obvious that our experiences in teaching young people have many common denominators across the profession. Not only are these events alike - just like Dr. Seuss recommends - they enable us to laugh heartily at ourselves.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do, and it enables you to laugh at life’s realities.’
If our ancestors began this narrative fiction with the invention of trade where they trusted each other to trade shells for obsidian, then maybe we can trade stories of our daily experiences for a smile?
Indulge yourself teachers, this one's for you!
(Find the whole collection of whimsical words here, a perfect gift for staff everywhere this Christmas)
*Cable Gremlin: The friendly little creature that stealthily climbs into your laptop bag to steal your charging cable. This creature means no harm, it is trying to help. It steals the cable to prevent teachers from being overworked. Usually, they do this late Friday afternoon so that the teacher in question can’t do any work all weekend.
*Pharaoh Prawn - When the student you are teaching grasps the concept straight away with ease. Leaving the room for five minutes to attend to the miscalculated photocopied sheets, you return to find the filtering prawn sitting on your throne. The student in question is doing a much better job of teaching the concept using hieroglyphs that only the younger generation understands.
*Pirate Smurry: The type of weather that sends students crazy. Atmospheric pressure can cause them to launch unprovoked attacks or quarrels without warning. Behaving in sync with the climate even the most mild mannered student can be affected - wet days seem to amplify pointless aggravations.
*Worm Knot: When the staff meeting goes at a really slow pace; even the hands of the clock ticking appear to be in slow motion. Reaching the end of the meeting would be like watching a worm try and tie itself in a knot - frustratingly slow and destructive to the worm’s health!