“Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.” ―C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I didn’t have the privilege to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series until I was an adult. And even as an adult, the poetic magic of C.S. Lewis’ words were not lost on me. The rich metaphors, the powerful allusions … Lewis was undeniably a master crafter of verse. I am so grateful to report that the fourth graders were exposed to this delightful storyteller much sooner than I; and even more so, their memories of this book and this time of literary immersion will live on as long as they do. As a
As a child, you usually remember one thing about each grade. Your class pet, an amazing field trip, a particularly special teacher you had that year … memories are stronger when they are exceptional. In the text, C.S. Lewis reminds us that, “All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.” As educators, it can be hard to bring our curriculum to life. This was not the case for Mrs. Ptasienski, because last week, as I walked down the hallway, I was amazed at the transformation of her room, to Narnia.
Her doors were covered with a set that appeared as an actual wardrobe. Her room was covered in regal twinkle-lights, and Mrs. Ptasienski, herself, was crowned and carried a “sword.” She had her students line up, single-file, and invited them into the “wardrobe” which led to Narnia and proceeded with a royal crowning ceremony, whereby each member of the class was inducted as either a King or Queen of Narnia.
When I asked her later, what gave her the idea, she humbly said, “You know, I don’t even remember.” That’s the thing about amazing teachers … to them, creativity is not work – it’s a way of life. I think what set the whole experience apart, was that Mrs. Ptasienski had woven the tale of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so delightfully into her curriculum, that I doubt the students felt they were learning at all. From the deep discussions they had, to the film to novel comparison they researched, every facet of this story was intentional and anchored not only to story elements but the gospel as well.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there is a poem that says:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
The text clearly lays out the promise that Christ will come again, and he will come with the intention and strength to vanquish all darkness. The allegorical reference was not lost on the fourth graders. During the crowning ceremony, when all of the children were delighted to keep their shiny, paper crowns, Mrs. Ptasienski told the students that the real treasure comes in heaven, when we are given crowns of gold to lay down at the feet of our savior.
How many lessons, I wonder … have the power to end like that.