Saurcana, Terror from the Sea
By Robert Hager
(Seaworm Press, 2004)
175 pp. $9.99
There is no neutral education. Education is either for domestication or for freedom. —Goan writer João da Veiga Coutinho
Guided by this bold premise, Texas educator and disability rights attorney Robert Hager has written an imaginative novel for middle schoolers that encourages critical thinking about society and history—even as the Texas State Board of Education, in its latest round of social studies textbook revisions, moved decidedly in the opposite direction.
Saurcana, Terror from the Sea is geared for the classroom and can be ordered with a teachers’ guide. Its themes are pertinent: How do we learn our history? What if our own experiences don’t jibe with official accounts? How are fears exploited? Do wars protect people? If so, whom?
The novel and its characters grew from Hager’s work in the 1970s as co-founder and director of an alternative program in Houston called Esperanza, the Outdoor School, an innovative early model of the Adventure Playground, where children create their own play structures using simple tools and materials. The approach, which has had a recent revival in the United States, honors Jean Piaget’s maxim “To understand is to invent.”