Reflections From the All Write Institute — #6: Dinner with Seymour Simon
“What an amazing opportunity!” I told my family as I planned for All Write. My mother-in-law was listening to the conversation and looked up from her chair, “What? You’re going to dinner with another man?”
“Yes, Mom. And probably 60 other people.” She did not understand. Who was this guy? Why was it so special to have dinner with him?
Seymour Simon’s works are some of the most beautiful and interesting books for science, and nonfiction in general, that I’ve ever read. I remember teaching 5th grade, reading Wolves, Volcanoes, and The Brain over and over. (Did I mention that he has written over 250 books for children, Mom?) He hosts a fabulous website, he’s on Facebook and Goodreads, and even has a famous app called “Science Fun to Go.” Yes, it was an honor to have dinner with him. We even got to meet his wife, and we asked her how could she possibly put up with all of us google-eyeing her husband! She laughed and was very understanding.
Seymour Simon talked for a while about making paper airplanes, teaching the students in his class to make them just right, so they would fly far across the classroom. He even held outside flying contests on the school grounds. He wrote a book about flying paper airplanes. Traveling back in time, he told us the story of riding in a propeller-powered aircraft, and how he was so scared. I was there with him — his words so eloquent — his story so upsetting to the stomach (LOL). Fast-forward to the present: he told us about teaching, writing, and some life lessons learned along the way. (A friend sitting next to me at the table leaned over and said to me, “There just aren’t many great storytellers left.”) I believe she’s right. This is an experience I will share with my students, for sure.
“We are story.”
“Start with the Why.”
Everyone has stories to tell. Lives matter, and sharing experiences is just one way to carry on our culture to the next generation(s). Students should find value in telling tales and listening to stories. It’s truly a one-of-a kind experience, and I will start my school year with storytelling. I cannot wait to share Seymour Simon’s talk with my class. It’s almost like I want school to start sooner than planned. Please check me out; do I have a fever?