"We are living a public life on a global stage, the ones who can express themselves best, will be heard." -Laura Hill, Author The Great Story World Mix-Up, co-creator #whatisschool

Read the books I write with my children.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Is It Magic or Science?

by Laura Hill

There is an ongoing debate at my house about what is science and what is magic.  I know that sounds strange.  We all agree that fairies don't really hide in the grass and that the internet is a technological miracle, right?  But in my circles the conversation goes a bit deeper.  I am of the mind that magic is simply something that science hasn’t figured out yet and that it exists all around us.  Arthur C. Clarke may have said it best when he stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

In my Great Story World Mix-Up books there are two heroes who are also sisters that go on a journey to a magical place called Story World.  In this world they need to use their talents to fix some pretty big problems that they accidentally created.  The older girl Penelope, is a real-world minded science girl who solves problems like puzzles with logic, applying proven theories in very unique ways.  Her younger sister, Jilly, is a believer in magic and a fairytale expert.  Her talent lies in her enormous faith that stems from the study of history and the influence of magic in literature.  It is no wonder Jilly’s ribbon wand gains special powers when visiting Camelot.  It’s also not surprising that Penelope uses salt to seed the clouds and make it snow when she travels back to dinosaur times with Amelia Earhart.

What is unique is the blending of the two girls talents, along with those of new friends they meet along the way.  There is never any question as to which is better, science or magic.  Instead, there is a general acceptance that both are necessary, even vital, if Penelope and Jilly hope to succeed in putting Story World back together.  I was thinking of this as I did some research for our upcoming tale The Boy Who Cried Sea Monster.  During the story Jilly finds the rainbow buried under the bark of giant eucalyptus trees.  Just looking at these real examples makes me think magic must be at work.  At a later point Penelope communicates with a dolphin that agrees to wear a tracking device and act as a guide for the pirate ship they are sailing on.  No doubt science has taught her how to do this.

So what’s the point?  Well the point is that whether you’re a science girl or a magic girl the world needs both kinds of people to get things done, the ones who believe it can happen and the ones who can figure it out.  This only becomes possible when we open our minds and our attitudes to things that may seem strange and threatening at first.  When you are a kid this can be really hard.

In a lot of schools students don’t have time to dig down and explore their true talents.  It’s not the school’s fault, there are only so many hours in a day.  But it is our fault as a society that we do not prize the unique talents of each child, instead praising a few types of accomplishments or worse, over praising so a child has no measure of their worth.  Wouldn’t it be great if each of us led when the circumstances called for our talents?  I think so.  

Why not take the challenge today and open your mind and those of your students to both the magic and the science that is all around us. Infuse your curriculum with this message and it will foster the insatiable curiosity that makes us distinctly human while letting each child in your class know that their special talents and unique point of view are not only good, but needed to continue the path of miraculous discovery we are on today.

Let a child know that their special talent is good and needed, then show them how to use it in the context of your class. We will all be better off for it and who knows, you may help a child discover a talent that will one day change the world.

Laura Hill is an author and producer known for helping children find their voice and talents through creative arts and technology. To find out how you can bring her writing programs to your school email Laura Hill or tweet @candylandcaper.