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Capt. Jack Sparrow, professor emeritus

Submitted by on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 No Comment
It started out innocently, when Big Guy brought home a "Pirates of the Caribbean" book as part of his voluntary school reading program - a program that became much more interesting, by the way, once he advanced to books with actual plots.

"You know, those books were movies, too," I said, immediately wishing I could take it back when he began begging to see the movies. Because we live 30 miles into the middle of no where, my hasty words quickly cost me the price of a Netflix membership.

And then it cost me hours and hours of research as I, ignorant of pirates, struggled to find a way to explain pirates in the context of their time.

"Are these good pirates or bad pirates?" Big Guy would constantly ask as we watched the movies.

"Pirates were basically pretty bad people," I'd say. "They made their living by stealing from others."

But when we found "100 Things You Should Know About Pirates" at the library, the "pirates are bad guys" theory became harder to support.

"If they were bad guys and if what they were doing was wrong, why did the government hire them? And where they good guys when they were working for the government?" Big Guy asked.

"Because while the pirates knew a lot about sailing and knew all the tricks that the other pirates used," I said. Some were eventually regarded as heroes of sorts, I said.

And they were bad guys with some redeeming qualities - they practiced diversity long before it was fashionable, and they had a crude workers' compensation system. They also allowed the crew a voice in some decisions and a cut of the booty.

Social lessons aside, as far as the guys are concerned, pirates are simply fun. Fun enough that they want to trace their routes along the American Atlantic and are eager to go to North Carolina to look for Blackbeard's treasure. Good luck with that one, guys.

They've also studied the "Cannibean," as Boots calls it, on the globe for so long that when Big Guy's school had a fund-raiser after the earthquake in Haiti, Big Guy as able to quickly locate the island.

They've traced possible routes between Jamaica and the Singapore setting in the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" and found out that it's not all that easy to get from Point A to Point B.

Most of all, they've had fun learning - a little history, a little geography and a little social studies. It's too bad we started to late to catch "Talk Like A Pirate" Day. Maybe next fall, though.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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