For the second week of Learning Creative Learning, we were asked to read Seymour Papert’s “Gears of My Childhood” and reflect on our own “gears.” Here is my response.
When I read Gears of My Childhood by Seymour Papert, I initially felt I really couldn’t relate at all. What toy or thing had enchanted me in my youth that has had a profound effect on how I view the world? Was it blankie or kermie (a stuffed frog)? Or does my childhood lack of interest in barbie dolls explain my adulthood relative disdain for “girly” things like jewelry? I really couldn’t think of a single thing. Then I read Box of My Childhood and a whole different memory clicked into place for me.
As a child, I was somewhat of a tomboy and daddy’s girl. When I was about 11 or 12 my parents added a den on to the house; a place where my dad could sit in a recliner and watch TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation. I always wanted to watch with him. Somehow I can even remember the first episode I ever saw: when Tasha Yar was killed by what amounted to a tar pit. I can’t say for certain whether I saw it when it originally aired (when I was just 9 years old) or later, but I can remember my dad patiently explaining everything as we watched.
It became somewhat of a ritual for us and later when I was in high school, my dad and I would watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over dinner, to my mom’s constant annoyance. She was forever making fun of Ferengi, Borg, Klingons, etc., but my dad and I would not be dissuaded.
Then in 1996, when I was 17, we got the internet: America OnLine. Within weeks I had found my way to Star Trek message boards, chat rooms, and finally into an RPG (role playing game) where I was a Trill science officer, just like my beloved Jadzia Dax. I loved not only the RPGing, but I also wrote long Log entries and created elaborate storylines where I became romantically involved with a commanding officer.
The love affair ended when I went off to college, but in the meantime, the internet grew. In 2001, inspired by the never-actually-good-but-always-full-of potential TV show Roswell, I once again sought out the corners of the internet that had nurtured my Star Trek love. What I found there absolutely hooked me: fanfic and the entire fandom world.
I posted elaborate science-based theories on the powers of the aliens of Roswell on message boards and wrote my first fanfic (terrible, I can now admit). Somehow I managed my way into a writer’s circle, where I was able to collaborate with and learn from people whose creativity I really admired. Along the way I wrote or edited more than more than 50 fictions in several different fandoms, fully immersing myself in online culture, grammar rules, storytelling styles and tropes, and all the finer points of fandom and writing.
Now, even though I am math teacher, my love for writing is known in my school and I am often called upon to write and edit official documents. And what I really want is to edit non-fiction books like Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything for a middle/high school audience or even create new curricula based around the idea that kids like history and science, it’s just that nearly every textbook is catatonically boring and devoid of any joy. Someday I will write something that changes the way these subjects are approached in school (even if it’s just within my school), but the seeds will have been planted long ago when Tasha Yar landed on Vagra II.