Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 20th, 2006
I guess I could discuss the ill whale swimming up the Thames today, and how the crowds are flocking to see it. It does remind me of what might have happened along the New England coast in 1817-1819, during the era of all those Sea Serpent sightings.
Or I could talk about the fact that at the Slamdance Film Festival, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang is being screened, or that some infamous Skunk Ape “hunters” are performing at their own “Everglades Swamp Hop” music festival.
But, hey, those stories are merely evidence of the usual cryptozoology entertainment news.
(Well, maybe a word or two. After all, the Napoleon Dynamite people are the ones doing The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang, about teens that stumble onto a Sasquatch or create a hoax – you take your pick. It promises to be funny. But as to highlighting the dubious promoter David Shealy again, well, maybe not.)
No, today, I want to pause from the waves of exciting CryptoZoo News rushing in, and send out a big thank you to the 2nd and 3rd graders in Ms. Michaela Goldfine’s class at Waynflete School. They reminded me of the spark and passion of adventure and youth that exists within cryptozoology. I visited their class this Friday, chatting with them about “hidden animals” for an hour.
Cryptozoologists-in-training? Perhaps. But more importantly, here was a group of wonderful minds revealed through bright eyes, wonderful smiles, and great questions.
It was a fun experience for me to sit in a kid’s chair in front of this bunch of eager learners who wanted to know more about Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, Cassie, and other cryptids. I spent some great time with them, showing them figurines, footprint casts, hair samples, drawings, and print frames from the Patterson-Gimlin footage.
We traveled together through the stories of the okapi, giant panda, and megamouth shark, arriving at the confusing (for kids) junction of centaurs and unicorns, but taking the nonfiction path to Sasquatch, Abominable Snowmen, and Sea Serpents.
We laughed together when I told them I had been doing cryptozoology for 45 years, since I was twelve. And again when I asked them how old they were in 1976, when the megamouth was discovered. A small voice volunteered: “Negative 22 years.”
Students are getting smarter about this material, and I applaud how well Ms. Goldfine had prepared her students. Her foundation text for this “hidden animals” study unit was Cryptozoology A to Z, and additionally she had an array of other Bigfoot and cryptids books, mostly oriented for kids. The young people knew their introductory cryptozoology.
My time going through my basic teaching objectives whizzed by.
And then their hands popped up during the last half of the presentation, and I answered lots of thoughtful questions. They included ones about how to tell fakes from real footprints, and whether I had seen any of these cryptids myself.
A question that amused everyone came from a young lad in the back row, who upon viewing all the fifty or so props I had brought for my “show and tell” talk (I guess I did overdo it – ha ha), who asked: “Where *did* you get all this stuff?”
Perhaps among my most favorites was the one from a little girl in the front row who burst out with: “How do you tell a man Bigfoot from a woman one?”
Actually, the more I think about it, my time with Ms. Goldfine’s class wasn’t so much a presentation about hidden animals and cryptozoology as much as a workshop on the topic for them and me. Doing these types of events keep me in touch with why I enjoy the gateway nature of cryptozoology for growing minds.
For more information on cryptozoology workshops I give for high school adolescents, please contact me, via my website
For grade schools, college, high school, or conference illustrated talks I give on cryptozoology in general, about Bigfoot, or on any of several cryptid specific topics I present through slide/PP presentations, email me through this contact form.
Okay, back to digging for the next breaking story….or planning for another investigative field trip.