[Homestead] Education, a blue frog and lollipop tree
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Sep 28 20:43:33 EDT 2004
My oldest daughter is a very talented mathematician. Her first female
math teacher did her damndest to discourage my daughter from taking
mathematics---said it was not a proper vocation for women. My daughter
was stubborn, went to the Principal to get the teacher off her
back---and went on to study mathematics and statistics under a different
teacher, the underpinning of her Project Manager, Systems Analyst and
Compliance Manager work for the past five years or so---doing some
things I cannot comprehend at all.
If I had known about this dum-dum teacher I would have blown my
stack---I suppose I would have learned about if my daughter had been
unable to solve the teacher problem on her own---maybe preventing a
homicide. I've always been pretty serious about my kids learning
anything and everything in which they were interested. .
The Christian Science Monitor - csmonitor.com
from the September 28, 2004 edition -
Too often, teachers extinguish a student's spark
*By Wendy Kennar*
I had painted "lollipop trees." At least, that's what my elementary
school teacher said.
Our assignment was to paint watercolor landscapes. I painted trees with
round tops, modeled after the pruned trees I saw as I walked to school
each morning. I liked my painting; my teacher did not. She said my trees
looked like lollipop trees; that they didn't look like real trees,
although they looked like the trees I knew.
Mrs. E picked up a paintbrush and painted over my trees to make them
look the way she thought trees should look.
For the rest of my school years, I never voluntarily took an art class.
Now that school is in session, I can't help wondering, worrying, what is
it we're actually teaching our children? The three R's? Yes. But we're
also teaching them, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, to
conform, to extinguish the spark that makes them individuals.
Children inherently believe they are invincible; good at everything.
They can achieve anything. They don't think they can't do something
until a grown-up tells them so. And that's when it begins to happen. Our
children begin to lose their zest for life, and along with it, their
>From my 10th-floor apartment window, I see a large tree alive with
purple blossoms. Seeing this purple tree makes me think of the very
narrow, frankly, boring definitions we provide our children: The sky is
blue, trees have green leaves and brown trunks, clouds are white, and
frogs are green. But that's not the way things always are. During an
intense, glorious sunset the sky is blood red. During a storm, the sky
is black and foreboding.
And I still remember how shocked I was, all those years ago when I went
to the San Diego Zoo with my dad and saw a blue frog.
As a kindergarten teacher, I tell my students that usually apples are
red, green, yellow, sometimes a combination of red and yellow. But if
they want to paint a blue apple I'm not going to stop them.
In November, I show them how to paint a turkey, and I use brown paint
for the turkey's body.
Last year, one of my students painted her turkey's body pink. She's the
artist. And yet I know teachers who insist that certain things be
painted and colored a certain way. Why? What purpose do these narrow
I always try to give my students a reason why we do things. While on the
floor, we sit with our hands in our lap so Mrs. Kennar won't
accidentally step on anyone's fingers. We sit with our legs crossed so
that our classmates can walk by without tripping. These rules make
sense; they serve a purpose. Where's the logic for a rule that states a
turkey must be painted brown? Why can't a pink turkey live in a child's
Yes, we must continue to teach our children to lead responsible lives.
But let us not forget to encourage our children to see the world with
fresh and eager eyes.
And please, don't paint over their lollipop trees.
• /Wendy Kennar teaches kindergarten at Rosewood Avenue Elementary
School in Los Angeles./
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