Through our dragon and dinosaur workshops, we have the privilege of visiting hundreds of primary schools across the country. We sincerely believe that these formative years are where imagination is born and a desire to learn is forged.
The idea is not original to us, but that makes it no less important. Young children want to learn; young children are quite content knowing that things exist outside their direct experience.
Young children believe in magic
and so they should. After all, real magic is all around them.
The meaning of magic
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our visits, it’s that dragons aren’t the only magical creatures in the school.
Imagination and creativity are both founded on the concept of suspending disbelief. In short, this is the act of convincing yourself that things we know are impossible might be… well… possible. It’s the stock-in-trade of the magician, of the storyteller, of the film director, and of the teacher.
The weight of disbelief
And it’s a hard job to do. Even at a young age, children probably don’t believe in dragons.
Our job is to make them think otherwise. It’s something we’re glad to do on our own, but often we get help.
Schools of magic and mystery
So many of the schools we visit put so much effort into creating learning opportunities for their children. Smashed dinosaurs’ eggs in the school hall, missing caretakers, overturned classrooms, and a head teacher’s officed covered in dinosaur poo.
Once we were greeted at the school gates by a police riot van, with parents and children being interviewed about the giant cage that had been smashed open.
This is the real magic. The commitment of teachers, parents, support staff, and more to making learning a thing of wonder. We see all the time the impact such an approach has on young minds. It’s a beautiful thing and, by far, the most satisfying aspect of our job. Every school is different, each one taking their own approach, but the intent (and the result) is the same.
Children are engaged – not just by the workshop, but by the unseen efforts of the entire school community.
A mysterious series of events
For instance, a recent visit to St Mary’s Primary School in Wexham showed us just how much of an impact a full build-up can create. Throughout the week leading up to our workshop the teachers provided the children with numerous creative ‘hooks’. A giant egg had been found, unannounced, among the school chickens. Giant footsteps appeared on the road leading to the school.
When we arrived with our dragon Sol, the whole school was abuzz with questions – and not just the children. Parents were outside the school gates taking photographic evidence that something magical was afoot in St Mary’s.
Teachers are some of the most creative people in the world and we are lucky to work with so many talented individuals as we set up our workshops. Simply hearing the nursery children trying to explain to their parents how two men from Liverpool made a magical book to come life and a dragon appeared in their hall – that’s enough to put a smile on our faces.
But maybe it’s not for us to say. Why not read what St Mary’s Roving Reports from Year 6 – Ethan, Eliza, Jess, and Erin – had to say about the whole experience?