Pirates & Superheroes as a front for education


Author: Maryanne Rodriguez via Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

The other day, I stumbled across this TED Talk given in 2008 by author Dave Eggers titled “Once Upon a School”. Inspired by the educators in his life and their wish for more assistance in educating their students, Eggers and several associates rented a building where they would publish their quarterly magazine McSweeny’s. The back of the building would be a publishing office, but the front of the building would serve as a tutoring center for students who might need help after school. . This give and take was meant to show students how writing works in a practical environment by having working writers in their own community assist them with their homework.


Author: Maryanne Rodriguez via Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Because the tutoring space was zoned for retail, Eggers and company had to come up with something to sell if they wanted to keep their business space, so they made it pirate themed, “selling supplies to the working buccaneer”. As well as serving as a tutoring center and a publishing house, 826 Valencia is also a fully functioning pirate supply store. No, really, they sell pirate hooks, patches and peg legs in the front. They actually make a profit with something that was meant as an atmospheric joke.

Through some trial and error, the space got up and running, and has been able to help many students supplement their educations with the help of professionals outside of the classroom. This first tutoring center has gone on to inspire others, including a Superhero Supply store in Brooklyn that sells capes, secret identity kits and lab supplies. Tutoring in the back, superheroes in the front…


Author: Jeffrey O. Gustafson via Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation License)

…yet another store in Los Angeles that sells supplies to time travelers. I love this one.

Echo_Park_Time_Travel_Mart GNU Free Documentation license

via Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation Liscense)

There are other stores under the 826 banner who help to supplement education in local communities, as well as those simply affiliated with the program. I think it’s pretty wonderful that Eggers and his associates have gone on to inspire education in exciting and engaging ways. Superhero, Pirate and Time Traveler supply stores as fronts for educational endeavors, now that’s something nerd’s everywhere should support. See Egger’s TED Talk below.

Facebook Comments