Westlandia

13Feb10

Westlandia by Paul Fleischman tells the story of a little boy named Wesley, who dares to be different. I love how Fleischman characterizes Wesley – he is truly the epitome of the type of ingenuity and creativity that all great inventions and discoveries depend on. Yesterday was National Inventors Day (and also Thomas Edison’s birthday), and I can’t help but link this story and Wesley to the celebration of the great inventors throughout history. I wonder if they were viewed by their peers and their parents as bizarrely as Wesley. Did people think Thomas Edison was a wacko when he tried 1,000 different filaments before successful creating the lightbulb? Probably. But imagine if he had listened! It’s people like Wesley and Edison that stay true to themselves and their interests and dream big, regardless of what others think, that accomplish great things.

When Reagan’s proclaimed National Inventors Day in 1983,  he said “Such recognition is especially appropriate at a time when our country is striving to maintain its global position as a leader in innovation and technology. Key to our future success will be the dedication and creativity of inventors.” I think this is still true, and its the Wesley’s of our classrooms that we need to embrace to allow them to cultivate their creativity. All of our students have the potential to bring our the Wesley in them, if they only would let themselves dream.

One of my favorite quotes is by Randy Pausch – he wrote, “Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important.” Wesley, thank you for reminding once again just how important that is!

Teaching aside: I found this great idea about letting students develop their own civilizations – http://coe.ilstu.edu/iga/LITERACY%20LPS/create_your_own_civilization.htm

Westlandia by Paul Fleischman tells the story of a little boy named Wesley, who dares to be different. I love how Fleischman characterizes Wesley – he is truly the epitome of the type of ingenuity and creativity that all great inventions and discoveries depend on. Yesterday was National Inventors Day (and also Thomas Edison’s birthday), and I can’t help but link this story and Wesley to the celebration of the great inventors throughout history. I wonder if they were viewed by their peers and their parents as bizarrely as Wesley. Did people think Thomas Edison was a wacko when he tried 1,000 different filaments before successful creating the lightbulb? Probably. But imagine if he had listened! It’s people like Wesley and Edison that stay true to themselves and their interests and dream big, regardless of what others think, that accomplish great things.

When Reagan’s proclaimed National Inventors Day in 1983,  he said “Such recognition is especially appropriate at a time when our country is striving to maintain its global position as a leader in innovation and technology. Key to our future success will be the dedication and creativity of inventors.”

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2 Responses to “Westlandia”

  1. 1 Amy Moser

    It is so important for teachers to model literature that embraces and celebrates diversity and individualism within the world. As a teacher, it is necessary for children to understand and form an appreciation for differences that may exist between one another. Weslandia provides the opportunity to discuss themes of acceptance and how to deal with issues of bullying inside and outside of the classroom. A teacher can be a mentor and friend to confide in, while peers can help each other to deal with every day problems. My class holds weekly class meetings every Friday. Students write notes and place them in a “Student Issue” box and we discuss these topics as a class. Together we try to work through topics and provide feedback to one another. Continuing topics that prove to be a challenge for most kids are acceptance, changing friendships, and fitting in with others. By holding these class meetings and modeling strategies, while continuing to read literature and peform reader’s theatre plays that encourages the right way to handle certain situations, teachers can create a classroom in which all students can succeed in their own way.

  2. 2 Leslie

    Amy, I love the sense of community in your classroom and how your students come together on Fridays to have discussions about issues they are encountering.

    Wesley’s character tugged at my heart strings. I know that I can be a mentor for my students and foster a caring, safe environment for them, and I also realize that gaining acceptance among peers can be difficult – and like Wesley, the tormenting often happens outside of school. Like Amy, my students know that my classroom is a place where we can have discussions as a class and resolve issues together, or come up with solutions that can help a peer.

    I was proud to see that Wesley did not conform to what he knew would be “accepted” among his peers (and even his parents). He is a creative child with big dreams. Although Weslandia existed in his backyard in modern times, he adapted his life in a way that was very primitive and used the resources his plants provided him. In the end, he was happy being himself and others accepted him for who he is.


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