Superheroes are showing up everywhere

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There’s going to be palpable superhero theme around Westside School next week. Maybe it’s the launch of the 2016 NFL season in Seahawks land, or the release of a slew of fall movie fare. Even our Westside School Fund BBQ & Movie Night this Friday, September 30, is celebrating the “heroes of the school” with capes and grilled fare.


Yesterday I heard two different “What superpower would you choose?” conversations on the playground – both in groups that crossed gender lines and ages. Despite popular belief, “invisibility” fell low on the list. I’d like to think it’s because our students are increasingly confident and willing to stand up and be seen in public. A third grade student told me, “Sorry, no. It’s just that time travel is way cooler. You can go back and do anything over again.”


I can’t argue with that. The opportunity to notice mistakes, revise work and improve is at the heart of what we want from students. It’s what digital advocates point to as an inherent strength of video games – we will return again and again after failure, just for the possibility to taking a problem a bit further, or deeper.

This desire for time to “get it right” is worth paying attention to. In today’s world, we lament an apparent national decrease in attention span and resiliency in our students, yet often complement that concern with tasks meant to be completed or meet standards rather than problems we engage, and reengage over time.


Superheroics have always been about imagining the power to fight the ineffable elements that we have little power over – to seize opportunities for a “do over” or to get it right. We have a chance in schools to engage that dream by creating complex, meaningful problems for students and letting them work through them, over time, without immediate resolution. When we do, progress becomes its own measurement of growth, and, sticking to it becomes heroic.

Talk more at the dinner table?
Recommended Video: Chris Anderson on TedEd