I haven’t posted in a while but my mind is blazing with this question!
Why is this question burning holes in my brain???? Because I heard a teacher say today that she felt she could determine a child’s potential when they were in her class. “Was she a teacher of college or high school students?” you might ask.
She is a teacher of children in a primary classroom.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I knew my own potential until I was at least 30. If my son’s teacher’s had been asked to name his future in kindergarten or first grade, they might have been pretty positive. In 3rd grade and 9th grade the report would have been abysmal.
I still can’t say I know what his future will be like but guess what?? He gets to decide that – not me, or some first grade teacher with limited vision!
I know she didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did, or maybe I’m being overly sensitive.
Yesterday our whole school was in a good mood. It was Friday, it was assembly day, and the day before Super Bowl weekend and our school had Seahawks fever. Everyone had been encouraged to wear blues and greens and there were some wild hair-dos and color coordinated outfits in every classroom.
At the end of our school assemblies, we always sing our school song with Mrs. W marching back and forth on a pathway between the seated students. Yesterday she came up to lead the song and said, “I’m going to go off-script.” She proceeded to describe a certain kind of football jersey, the kind with the name on the back, and invited every student wearing one of those jerseys to come up front and help her lead the song.
Kids started coming forward from all over the gym. The 5-year-old sitting next to me pointed to his shirt and said, “I have a Seahawks shirt on. Does mine have a name on it?” “No, honey, you are right, it’s a navy blue shirt but it’s not the kind with a name.”
There were probably 50 students up front singing and it was one of the loudest and pride-filled renditions of our beloved song, but all I could think about was how expensive those shirts are and that an innocent invitation had just divided a student body into have’s and have-not’s.
Pete Seeger is dead at 94.
My radio was playing “If I had a hammer” this morning when the alarm went off. What great music to rise to! And I was reminded of a chat with a young person just two weeks ago about that very song. Justin is a 5th grader at our church and he and I collaborated to present an intergenerational book read on a Wednesday evening. The book we used was Don’t Laugh At Me inspired by the Steve Seskin song by the same title.
I looked at many books when I was preparing to be a part of this project. What clinched it for me was the fact that Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary was inspired to create Operation Respect, a social awareness program for schools and other communities because of this song. I ordered the lesson guide and shared it with Justin and we did a few of the activities with an intergenerational group of about 30 people.
One of the suggestions in the guide is to sing If I had a Hammer. When mentioned this to Justin he said, “I don’t know that song, I’ll have to learn it.” His moms sure know the song; they were belting it out that night. What a joyous sound we all made thanks to some fine guitar playing by our pastor.
So here’s to Pete Seeger and another generation of kids who need to learn to sing his songs.