First, I need to update you a little bit. I’ve started working as a substitute teacher a few days a week. Why, you may ask, would I do something so insane? Well, the extra money doesn’t hurt, and it gives me something to do. Anyway, there are four elementary schools and one middle school within a very short distance of my house, making it easy for me to sub. The observation I’m making comes from today’s assignment, which was in a kindergarten classroom.
I want to start out by saying that this was by far the most organized classroom I’ve been in. The lesson plan was perfect and easy to follow. The kids were really well behaved. It was pretty awesome.
That being said, I was a little creeped out by something. One of today’s assignments was to color pictures of the planets Neptune and Uranus (space is this week’s theme). We read a book, talked about some of the facts in the book, and then I handed out the coloring sheets. After I did that the kids asked to see the sample. Sure enough, there was a sample and I brought it out. Then the kids told me that the teacher always hangs the sample up so everyone can see it. Ok, not a problem. I did that.
All but one kid copied the example EXACTLY. The placement of the moons, the shading, everything was exactly the way the teacher had done it. Except for the one kid, who got creative with her moons and how she used the crayons (pretty cool shading technique for a kinder, I have to say), and she also put stars and background on the picture. I was pretty impressed with it, but all the other kids were going on about how the teacher didn’t like it when they deviated from the sample.
And the rest of the day was pretty much the same. As I looked at some of the work that was displayed, it was pretty obvious that this teacher valued compliance over creativity. It was disheartening.
I can only imagine if the Things were in this class. Let’s see, when Thing 1 was in kinder, he liked to mix things up, like giving the bunny rabbit green ear insides, instead of pink. Or coloring his stuff in a negative. And Thing 2, well, where should I start? Would it be with the day he decided to do everything backward (talk, walk, dress, write), or perhaps the day he decided to see what the inside of his locker would look like when the door was closed (what, is there a light in there or something?). Fortunately, both of my guys had teachers who didn’t even blink when stuff like this happened. But I can only imagine what a miserable year we would have had if we had this teacher.
So I’m wondering how many creative impulses this teacher has crushed in the name of having an orderly classroom. And the more I think about it, the more I’m sure all of these kids will totally ace their standardized tests in the future. Education like this will give us a well trained work force. But it will be exactly that: trained. Like a monkey or a dog, they won’t be capable of thinking or leading. And that is what we need our schools to provide for us now more than ever.