The Scab Faerie

If that title doesn’t get your attention, I’m not sure what would. The Scab Faerie is a whimsical children’s book about the many fairies that visit our homes at night. It’s not just teeth they are looking for!

I had the pleasure of putting this book together with Sonia, a sophomore at my alma mater, St. Olaf College in Minnesota, USA. I studied creative writing there, among other things, and this year, 36 years after graduating, luck put the two of us together on the adventure of taking a book from start to finish, author and illustrator, combining creativity with an attempt to publish a story that might actually sell a few copies. Fingers crossed.

At the end of the project, Sonia, the illustrator, sent the most wonderful email. It took me several days to figure out exactly how to reply. I was somehow quite moved. In her mail were two brilliant nuggets for educational consideration, though that wasn’t her intention. But we teachers tend to notice examples of educational moments that truly matter. I think Sonia happened to deliver.

Sonia wrote: 

Your whimsy, open-mindedness, and abundant creativity made it easy and gratifying for me to share in such a bright creative spark. Illustrating and describing our faeries didn’t feel like a chore, but an adventure.

Ah yes. When work isn’t a chore, but an adventure. When school isn’t a slog, but a sprint. When we hit a state of flow, as Czikentmihaly puts it, and the difference between work and play disappears in the buzz of purposeful, joyful production. Are we doing school with the glow that comes from finding that state of flow for our students and ourselves?  

Sonia continued:

Having to … edit things let me know that we were treating the project seriously, as well.

Sonia does good work. And I think my text was pretty good. But of course, we had different ideas about different parts of the book. We also had ideas that seemed good when we imagined them but didn’t look as good after they were drafted, which then required flexibility on both our parts. In short, we collaborated and compromised, from a position of true investment in the outcome.

During our adventures in school, are we setting projects up so that first tries, however hard we work on them, aren’t good enough? Are we setting projects up in a way that require collaboration and feedback from multiple sources? Is feedback something that is acted on? Or is feedback mostly a mark in the gradebook?

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