Guest Post: Hackney Pirates
Avast, me hearties! And other such piratical observations! For this guest blog comes straight from the poop deck of Hackney Pirates. What’s it all about then? Captain Catriona Maclay tells us more!
Sometimes when you want to achieve something good, it’s best to do it on the sly. At The Hackney Pirates, what we DO is education. What we TALK about is buccaneering, adventure, and treasure. Because even good intentions sometimes need a good disguise. Every couple of weeks we ask a new crop of Hackney Pirates volunteers what their most powerful learning experiences have been, and every week we hear amazing stories of the experiences, places and people who have made learning special for them. What we find, is that people’s best learning experiences aren’t those that happen in classrooms, although they often involve great teachers. Those experiences usually involve getting personal attention from a caring adult who motivates you by focusing on your personal talents or challenges, or being in an inspiring space that’s outside of the day-to-day, or learning something new by doing it for real. So here at Pirates HQ, we try and emulate the best of those learning experiences for young people who need some extra help. A key part of doing that is creating a space and an identity which is exciting and motivating, and we find we get a lot further with both children and grown ups when we talks about pirates rather than education. As Steve Jobs has said “How could you join the navy if you could be a pirate?”
What we really believe is that learning isn’t all about teachers and school, and that the more we can help school learning along by using other types of resources, the better. Everyone can be an educator and everyone has something to teach, so we don’t want children to lose out on all the knowledge and inspiration that can be found in the community. We give children that critical one-to-one attention which helps them flourish by recruiting volunteers from our local community, and training them to support children on their homework, and on our creative projects. In our after-school sessions, they publish books, websites and other products which have developed their literacy, while giving them the chance to work with amazing local professionals. Education shouldn’t just be left to teachers and schools. We’re lucky in this country to have universal education for all young people, and that’s the first and greatest step to giving all people meaningful opportunities to fulfil their potential as individuals and in society. But we mustn’t be complacent about the ongoing educational inequality we have in Britain, or the need for innovation and improvement to make sure that all young people have a chance to succeed. At The Hackney Pirates, we’re using resources in a smart way to boost young people’s literacy and creativity, so that they do better in school and in the world beyond. And we’re making it a pretty enjoyable experience for all concerned.
If you want to try being a Good Pirate, grab your own best memory of learning, rustle up one afternoon a month, and join the crew. For more details about volunteering, or because you have ideas or pieces of gold to give, go to www.hackneypirates.org, or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.