It’s not easy to get the kids attention when giving tours at the museum. The minute we walk in there they gasp. “Is that a real whale?” some will ask while others immediately start to chatter about the size, his one great eye peering down like a proctor making sure you don’t cheat on your test.
“Yes he is real” I say. He has been here since the museum first opened. He is paper mache on one side so that you can see what he looked like alive and his skeleton is on the other side so that you can see what he looks like from the inside.” And just as they are veering off to another subject I jerk them back when I say, “He is a sperm whale and the only whale with a throat large enough to swallow a human being.”
Now there quiet, I have their attention and I start my tour. I take them over to the image of Ku. Again the kids start to whisper, shove and turn to other displays. It’s a constant game of wanting them to learn something without boring them. I’m always trying to incorporate something that will reel them in and yet be something they are familiar with. Now that I think of it I have to do it with adults to, such as connecting the appearances of all the American flags after 9/11 to the appearances of Hawaiian flag quilts after the Americans banned the flying of the Hawaiian Flag.
But this time the kids are kind of fascinated with the image of Ku but Ku competes with the display of a Heiau just to the front of the image. So I ask my question. “Who has seen the cartoon, Scooby Doo?” Heads spin towards me and their arms almost dislocate as they shoot up into the air affirming they have.
There is one segment of Scooby Doo where they use a “Tiki” as part of a curse. Of course the tiki’s modle was the image of Ku. All of the sudden the kids realize that the god they are looking at does look like the one seen in the cartoon.
“Can this Ku put a curse on you?” I ask as they all look at each other with worried faces. I explain to them that Ku was a very important god for the Hawaiian’s of old and that they looked to him for much. Good crops, government and laws among other things. I tell them that they now know the real truth about Ku. He is not cursed. He certainly was not part of a cartoon and that he was very important to the ancient Hawaiian people.
I want to instill this in to the children because many are Hawaiian and I want them to know the difference when their culture is being used in a wrong manner for entertainment. I want them to have a sense of pride at all of the accomplishments that their ancestors brought about. Ku seems to do this as the kids, especially the boys really enjoy that tying in of Scooby Doo and the “Cursed Tiki.”
So now the kids are calmed down, have become enthused about the artifacts and I finely feel I have their attention. So we stop in front of the Hale Pili or little grass hut.
Hale Pili a restored Hawaiian house made from Pili grass
“Now boys and girls, I want you each in turn to look inside of this hut (it contains a woven pillow, small lava rock lamps cut away, lit with kukui nut oil, and soft woven mats.) I tell them to look carefully at each thing and tell me what this hut was used for. “Remember the Hawaiians only used this hut for one thing as they had huts for each activity that you would normally have rooms for in your house.”
I always think this is a given. Come on a pillow, soft mats and low lighting? Just when I think they are finely paying attention, they answer, ” a kitchen.”
And so it goes. Everyday I must return to the old drawing board. Kids; no ears, no eyes, just a zest for life.