In 1888, Robert Browning published the poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Since then, many a retelling of the story, including that of the Brothers Grimm, have been published. The underlying truth of the story still resonates today as much as it did in 1888 – take care of your children or they will be led astray. We live in a culture built on entitlement and on finding or acquiring the next best thing. In education circles this truth also resounds. We are often so busy moving on to the next trend, fad or buzz word, that we fail to ask ourselves, “where are we really taking learners?”
The Pied Piper of Hamelin may well have rescued the children of Hamelin from a dreary future of dishonesty, entitlement and boredom. No one knows where the children of Hamelin went as they passed into the cavern in the mountain. Only one small boy did not pass into the mountain with the rest of the children. The tale notes that he spent a life lamenting over the fate of his friends:
“When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say, —
“It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
“I can’t forget that I’m bereft
“Of all the pleasant sights they see,
“Which the Piper also promised me.
“For he led us, he said, to a joyous land…”
Hopefully, the piper really did take the children to a joyous land. As educators, we are the pipers of today. We have the opportunity to take learners on a journey where they too can find joy… joy in learning, joy in wondering, joy in discovering, joy in purpose, joy in relationships and joy in the construction of meaning. It’s time to seize the pipe and play a new tune!
About the PiEd PYPer: Tanya de Hoog is a passionate educator who has been working in International Baccalaureate schools since 2003. Tanya has fulfilled a variety of roles in her quest to be the best educator she can be, including: classroom teacher, enrichment coordinator, IBA workshop leader, student action mentor, curriculum coordinator and administrator.