Tag Archives: Wade Sisson

Kids Ask the Best (and Most Humorous) Questions

Wade Sisson head shot

By Wade Sisson

I’ve spoken about the Titanic at a lot of schools since my book, Racing Through the Night, was published in 2011, and I soon learned that kids always ask the best – and most humorous – questions.

For that reason, it’s been my visits to schools that I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s something about the Titanic story that captures the imaginations of young people. You can see it in their eyes as you start talking about it. When you ask them if they know anything about the Titanic, they all raise their hands.

The questions are usually evenly split between Titanic, the ship and Titanic, the James Cameron movie. Were Jack and Rose real? Why didn’t the ship see the iceberg in time to miss it?

They’re always disappointed to learn that Jack and Rose were fictional characters – but they’re fascinated to learn about the real people who are part of the Titanic story. They always seem especially touched by the story of Millvina Dean, the last of the survivors, who died in 2009.

Most of the schools do an amazing job of preparing the kids in advance. By the time I arrive, they’ve already studied the ship, the passengers and have even dipped their hands in 28-degree water.

That doesn’t mean I don’t the occasional oddball question. Like the time one little fourth-grader asked me, “Did you bring up any gold?” I told him I’d actually never been to the wreck site – and I didn’t have any gold. He didn’t believe me and asked me again several times during the discussion. Then as I was leaving the classroom he stopped me. “Dude, seriously, where’s the gold?”

The children also try to tie the Titanic story in with other lessons they’ve had. During one school visit our discussion got hijacked by a few well-meaning third-graders. It started with one question: “Did the Titanic sink in the Bermuda Triangle?” I assured the class that the Titanic was nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle, but once the thing had been mentioned, it took on a life of its own. Another student said “Maybe the Titanic hit the iceberg because they couldn’t see inside the Bermuda Triangle.” I had to confess I was not a Bermuda Triangle expert and that seemed to satisfy them enough to stop their line of questioning.

There’s always at least one child who reminds me of myself at that age – completely drawn into the Titanic story and eager to learn as much as possible. But it’s all of the children – and their genuine interest in the history – that makes these school visits worthwhile.

titanic-author-sisson

Newspaper coverage of the Sinking of the Titanic

A grim teacher Richmond Times Dispatch April 23, 1912

History is a grim teacher. This editorial cartoon refers to the loss of over 1,000 lives in the fire in New York harbor of the Slocum tour boat, the Iroquois Theatre fire and the Titanic. Richmond Times Dispatch April 23, 1912

A night to remember, new probe

Lowering of the boats The Sphere of London

This graphic was created in one week’s time for the Sunday edition of The Sphere of London as part of that newspaper’s reporting on the sinking of the Titanic.

Icebergs lesson The Sphere

Danger field of fog and ice middle view

Be sure to show your 21st century children this graphic. It is NOT a photo from space…it came from the mind of an artist, using maps and wireless reports, showing ice bergs and fog which lay in wait for ships crossing the Atlantic.

The Sphere amazing graphic showing positions of other ships

In 1912, without benefit of GPS or satellite imagery, an artist at desk in the newsroom of The Sphere of London conceived and drew up this diagram of the positions of ships at the time of the Titanic sinking. The only tool were the reports of those positions by wireless.

William Thomas Stead went down with the ship, Journalist and Editor

Famous English journalist W. T. Stead went down with the ship; today’s top news reporters would have been the first in the lifeboats.

London The Sphere page 49 photos

Photos and graphics of the Titanic which appeared in the Sphere of London

London The Sphere how wireless works page 1

How wireless worked on the Titanic. The Sphere of London

The Sphere lifeboat davits

Lifeboat davits on the Titanic. The Sphere of London

The Sphere of London The last phase of the sinking

The expeditions to the bottom of the ocean confirm that this artist’s conception of the final moments were wrong. Some witnesses related the correct breaking of the ship while this graphic shows the deadly plunge.

London The Sphere greatest wreck photos of people  Nova Scotia archives

Adrift in an open boat cartoon San Francisco

This editorial cartoon appeared in the San Francisco Examiner and cited greed on the part of the White Star Line in not having enough lifeboats. Actually, the line could easily have afforded the extra $16,000 for 32 more lifeboats but it was the arrogance of Bruce Ismay to not wanting to have his deck cluttered with boats that prevented the boats from being provided.

Bruce Ismay says his conscience is clear headline in News Leader

Politicians and top bananas of industry, labor and finance can be pretty arrogant today, but they were in 1912 as well as shown in this Richmond News Leader headline.

Christian Science Monitor says all are safe

This article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and echoed wrong information which was also front page in the Washington Post and London Daily Mail.

Honour to the Brave The Sphere May 4 1912    London The Sphere how wireless works page 1

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