It is wonderful to discuss your work with a truly receptive audience. And few more audiences are totally receptive than a room full of five year olds. For the second year in a row I was asked back to Archibald First School in Gosforth to talk to the kids about living and working in desert environments. We discussed polar bears, leopard seals, the differences between Inuit and Sami, how you go to the toilet, where Santa Claus lives and how to survive, even how to swim with sharks – all directed by the questions that the children prepared themselves.
After a vigorous and occasionally raucous Q&A I got the kids dressed up in the typical kit you might wear while skiing in the arctic, or when stationary and camped, and taught them how to wear an Arabic keffiyeh head dress just the like the Bedouin.
Then it was time for photos, more questions, and a cup of tea for yours truly. I love doing these talks. The kids genuinely inspire me to want to do more each year. I might have to see if I can get someone to donate a full sledge and ski set up for next year. I think a camel might be pushing it though.
You can see a full set of photos that the teachers took at the Archibald website and here’s a scan of one of the 20 or so letters of thanks I received from the kids. That’s the kind of job reference I like.
I’d recommend anyone who lives an adventurous life, travels, or who has an interesting job try and do this at least once. These talks really make a difference to young kids. I remember one at my own junior school where a former pupil who trained as an astronaut with NASA came in and blew us all away with his experiences. What it demonstrates to kids is that someone who grew up in a place like them can do wondrous things with their lives. And that can only be a good thing.by