When “R is for Rocket” one of many Ray Bradbury anthologies was published in the 50s, space travel was an American idea you could taste on the tip of everyone’s tongue. This was before John F. Kennedy lit up America’s mind in 1961 with the dream of a Moonshot. But Bradbury gave us a counterintuitive taste of the dream looking through the small end of his telescope, in his story about a faraway Earthbound peasant family in Italy.
Fiorello Bodoni, the father, has a humble house beside a junkyard, a wife, and 3 kids who are obsessed with space travel and the kids all want to travel into space. Much to his practical-minded wife’s dismay, Fiorello promises his children a ride. Under cover of darkness, he sets to work on crafting a rocket ship out of available sheet metal and artifacts. When he is finished, the ship stands like a sculpture in the moonlit junkyard, where he announces the scheduled departure. The duration of the trip: one week. In the morning, as mother looks on, Fiorello and his kids line up, enter the craft like astronauts, shut out the light of day, and blast off.
The father gives his children a ride that Einstein, who imagined riding on light beams as a teenager, would have applauded; a week of sailing through the dark of space, equipped with storytelling, imagination, and a repository for profound belief and dreams they could call upon all their lives.
Of course, this might seem small potatoes compared to the real American moonshot of 1969, but in 2018 the great American dream of space travel, like so many other things has shrunk. Our great astronauts are gone, our democratic way of life is under attack, our infrastructure neglected, our economy stacked, suicide is the top cause of death in the young, and the dream has faded. There will be no time to read Bradbury because American public Education is in a state of self-imposed house arrest. And whereas Fiorello’s kids hungered to travel in space, with imaginations strong enough not to judge but soar joyfully with their father into space and time, most of our kids live smaller-than-life, isolated through the glass of handheld devices, wondering about the school-shooter lottery. Here in 2018, We the People are faced with a larger than life challenge: To save our country’s future we must save America’s imagination from the poisonous tentacles of Big Tech and Big Test, and our learning culture from those who would plunder, own, and operate it for profit.
We may not be going to the moon anytime soon, but we do have to summon the nation’s will to re-imagine, like Fiorello Bodoni, what we want, what our kids deserve, and what we have to do to create our way out of the state of impoverished thinking that has given us a factory instead of a vital, thriving learning culture.
We are not making this up. Our Learning Culture is in the midst of a hostile takeover. We need to find our 1st Responders, or America will never remember, much less regain the bold thinking that made us build and think great undertakings. We need to find our Fiorellos who can guide us as we embark on this Century’s Moonshot; on a mission to transform the space we call Education--and the spaces we call classrooms – into safe havens for kids to learn and think free, playfully, and imaginatively. The time to sign up for that mission is right now, right here. Join our mailing list at playtectonics.org as we move education up and away on the power of Play.
- Jeff Peyton, Founder
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