Last Wednesday while I was at service the kindergarten class I work with were doing Thanksgiving activities. They were each given a worksheet that was shaped like a turkey and had three phrases; “I will eat, I will have, and I will see”; each phrase was followed by a blank line for the children to fill in their answers. Because it is a kindergarten class and they often write their letters backwards let alone be able to spell correctly the words to complete each phrase, the teacher took a consensus of the class for what everyone would eat, have, and see and then wrote each answer on the board for them to copy.
For the “I will have” phrase the class as a whole decided they would write fun. I was working with Sekeia who was writing crabs under the “I will eat” section when I turned to the other table to see Deondre’s paper; he had already told me he was excited for Thanksgiving break and under the “I will have” section he wrote “cartoon time”. Not only was this a pretty big development for a five year old boy to realize that over the holidays he would be able to watch cartoons rather than have to go to school, but I should also mention that his handwriting was immaculate and it was spelled perfectly. Deondre is extremely smart and he is also seen to the other kids as being weird because of his abilities.
Despite Deondre’s learning abilities he is not different than the other children. All of them have short attention spans and love to have free time and all of the children are also constantly being yelled at by the teacher. It is really upsetting because it is completely normal for kids of their age to not be able to focus for lengthy periods of time; in fact, the fact that they go to school for a full day is overwhelming. The kindergarten children need more free time and unrestricted activities, whether it be a longer recess or more resource class time.
Deondre is like Meg’s character in A Wrinkle in Time, she is known as a misfit and has no real friends other than her own brother and later Calvin. When I read the part in the story where the children learn of the prediction of earth essentially becoming a black hole and the artists and philosophers and religious leaders attempting to fix it I thought of what schools will be like for children if they lose the arts; the children will no longer look forward to long school days and they will be unable to express their creativity.
While in the workroom making copies one day a teacher had mentioned that the music classroom doesn’t have any instruments. This is obviously sad because it means the children are deprived of an opportunity to learn specific instruments but it also means that the phasing out of arts is underway and can easily be executed. The result in the story of the “darkness” was that everyone was robotic and acted the same, diversity was nowhere to be found and no one was unique. Obviously this is a very extreme warning of what could possibly come but it does hold some truth, without music, art, gym, free time, and media time, there is a very real risk that children will not develop part of their identities that they may have had.