Let the Memories Begin

My family and I recently returned from an adventure at Disney World in Orlando, FL. I call it an adventure because it wasn’t exactly what I would call a relaxing vacation. Instead, it was a busy 6 days of running around as a group of 10, with 4 of the 10 being children under the age of 8. Yes, this was a Clark Griswold-like dream of my father to take his girls and their families to the mecca for family adventures. There is a sign at every entrance to a Disney Park that says, “Let the memories begin.” I can assure you that we made a host of memories during our adventure.

It didn’t hit me until about the 2nd or 3rd day that the Disney employees (called “cast members”) are so incredibly courteous. The first morning we were at breakfast, one of the servers presented my 8 year old daughter with her very own crown. She wore that thing all week to every place we traveled. She was called “Princess” more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. Every time that was said to her, I watched that little girl’s face light up and her confidence increase.

When my son broke his swimming goggles on the waterslide and came down with blood coming off the bridge of his nose and tears down his face, a cast member immediately took care of him…right down to giving him a new pair of goggles. There really are no worries when you are in this environment. Their mission is to take care of you.

Disney is in the midst of major renovations in Fantastyland at the Magic Kingdom. Some companies put up signs that say, “Please disregard our mess while we are under construction.” That’s not the Disney way. They have signs, but they speak more about the culture of the organization rather than about what they are doing. This one caught my eye and inspired me to write this post:

My question is this: what if as leaders we made sure our kids were in another world while at school? What if this world allowed them to reach out and collaborate with others in the larger global society, not just the ones who are sitting next to them in a classroom? What if we allowed some to escape the fears they have about when they get their next meal or if a parent is going to come home that night? What if we were the positive role models our students are grasping for? What if we provided learning experiences for our students that they can’t even fathom?

Perhaps then we could put signs outside our schools that say, “Let the memories begin.”

Main Street Blur by Express Monorail on Flickr
Laughing at Alice and the Rabbit from Me
Walt Disney Quote from Mike Dial



2 thoughts on “Let the Memories Begin

  1. Love the question. It is pretty near and dear to my heart. I have always taken great care to foster little mini-ecosystems with their own feel and culture of respect. I long taken great care to assure that our space was understood as a space where risk-taking was cool, and small failures were safe and expected.

    At the same time, I don’t think we can build hermetically safe little walled gardens for children. Your “what if this world allowed them to reach out…” speaks to that very fact. It’s funny, I stuck a name on this little set of “strategies” the other day at one of the design committee meeting for the new schools. We drew those walls with perforated lines to show safe spaces, that also allowed contact with the reality and the benefits of the wider world.

    It then hit me… and I think my comment was something along the lines of, “In my world as a biology teacher, someone like me might explain that as functionality as a “selectively-permeable membrane.” That got some fun giggles for sure. It really does work. Well, assuming you also consider the active transport needed by the leader of the room to bring in experts thereby priming the pump.

    Anyway… good story. I’ve never been to the world of Disney. That helped explain things. That and… the poor kid’s goggle-fail. Yikes. I bet that looked creepy at first, eh?

  2. Well said Dr. Dial. That was always goal to make my classroom a place that allowed kids a place away from their home. For some it may have been a vacation, and for some it may have been a classroom. If you can do that succesfully with a classroom while still engaging students in learning processes, that is an awesome classroom.

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