Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Educators...

First, thank you for all you do, your dedication to our kids and the cause of helping educate future adults.

Second, can we talk for a moment?  I'm sure you've meant no harm with these assignments but I don't think you have this perspective fully in view.

I'm not sure you've noticed but time is slipping by.  It's 2012.  The family unit is no longer a standard set of mommy married daddy and they home made their 2.5 kids and a dog.  There are so many variations on family, I can't even begin to list them here.  I'm not going to get into the "right" and "wrong" kinds of families either.  That's another blog where I rant about love and grace and so on.

What I'd like to discuss here is something that I'm sure wasn't much of an issue in the past, but is becoming an issue now.  I'm only just running into it as our multicultural family hits the elementary schools, but I have friends with older kids and bigger projects running into bigger issues.

Over and over through out our children's educational career, we ask them to do different projects about themselves and their lives.  For a lot of kids, this is a happy easy assignment.  They love to hear their baby stories and dig through their baby photos and keepsakes.

For some of our kids, this is a hard thing.  There is a gap.  They were adopted from other countries or from some other part of our country, but things are missing.  They have no baby stories and no one knows them.  These are kids that don't have baby books or photos.  There are no keepsakes from infancy.  They may not even know the names of their birth parents or where they came from.

For yet another group of our kids, this is close to cruel.  These are the older kids.  The ones that do know their stories.  They were there and saw mommy die or overdose.  They lived the crack house experience or were homeless.  These are the kids that were beaten and raped.  They don't want to relive it.  And they don't want to lie or try to sugar coat some part of their life that was horrible.  They may or may not have those photos or keepsakes.  They may not want to see these things again let alone make them into a project to present to the class.

I don't know what the answer is here.  I understand why you ask the kids to do these projects.  I do.  But I also know what it's like to be on the other side of it.  I have 2 kids that love their baby stories and all the memories told to them.  I have 2 kids that don't have stories or pictures or anything at all from the time before they came here.

I don't think our kids should have to invent a story about their lives that makes them sound like everyone else and helps them "fit in".  I don't think we should have to search the Internet for generic baby photos that we could use as theirs just to full fill the project requirements.  I don't think we should be pressuring our kids to stand in front of their peers and try to sugar coat a life that wasn't sweet.

I know you're going to tell me to find the ways to have my kids accept their past, love who they are, not let that stuff color who they will become and so on and so forth.  I know.  It's a lot easier than it sounds.  Sometimes covering over it in prayer brings peace and comfort but that doesn't always translate into a class presentation.  Sometimes a kid just wants to be a kid like all the other ones in the class.  There's only so much being "special" a person can take.

I guess all I'm asking is for a little grace and consideration about these projects.  Maybe this summer when you're planning for the next class to fill your room in the fall you could just give these projects a second thought.  Maybe there is a way for kids to tell their stories or see the significance of their history without it hurting.

Being star of the week shouldn't bring tears as you realize you don't have a photo of your first mommy.  Thank you kindergarten, you've been a bitter pill all year long and you're going out like a lion.

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