Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creative License

Red has come quite a ways since the beginning of the school year.  He has learned all his letters, how to write his nickname and legal first name, and how to read small decodable books.  He can write his numbers to fifty, with only some prodding at remembering thirty, forty, and fifty.  He writes more and more letters and numbers in the correct direction.  He can rhyme, identify beginning and ending sounds of three-letter words, and identify the middle sound of some three-letter words.

His teacher is  amazing.  Truly amazing.  She has taught him all of this and how to color better.  According to G, she worked with a small group of them early on.  While "teaching Whiskers to color", I got to hear many coloring tips.

A few weeks ago, as I was going through G's papers in his Take Home Folder, I caught wind of some creative artistic differences he has with her. 

Now, I will not tolerate any sort of derogatory comments regarding his teacher.  NONE.  Why?  First, because she is truly amazing.  Second, because I've heard other kindergarten teachers discuss with their classes what color people or items in a picture should be.  This is not uncommon practice.

What makes a blog post is another page that came home.  Again, it is a dog.  Again, it is creatively colored. 

Attached was a blank copy of the second dot-to-dot. "Why is this here?" inquired G.  "Oh."  he deadpanned.  "It's 'cause I won't color it like a real dog."  I made him connect the dots correctly, then set the blank slate aside for a bit. 

A few days later, I noticed this coloring page, from one of our many coloring books, displayed on his bulletin board.  G keeps only his most important paperwork there: a calendar of February which he keeps forgetting to mark, a photograph he likes, the cover to a packet of construction paper he apparently finds artistic, and the colored puppy.  Note that colored puppy earned a "sticker" on the bottom--care of G. 

During these snow days, I finally convinced G to color the blank slate. 

"I don't want to," he admitted.  "I want to color the dogs rainbow, but there are no rainbow dogs in real life."

I found him photos of rainbow dogs via Google images for "painted poodle".  We even found one with an actual rainbow painted on it.  Then I informed him that the dog had been dyed to look like that.  Truly, I do not know of any rainbow dogs occurring naturally.  I then helped him find the crayons to color the dog like our new puppy, Darla.  Then I had a little discussion with him about how he must do what the teacher asks.  Even if he doesn't agree with her, she is in charge. 

I can't send the new pic to school.  I want to frame all four dog pics and display them in the playroom or my room.  Why?  Because while I believe first and foremost that he must do what the teacher asks,  I also believe my children should be creative.  As a seventh grade English teacher, I constantly prod my students to be creative and I have to constantly remind them that there is not always one right answer.  My hope is that my children abide by authority's rules even if they do question them.  After all, I want them to be productive, employed, law-abiding citizens.  However, I don't want them totally programmed (think Holocaust).  I want them to question, to be creative, and to be content with differences.  Appropriately.