Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mayflower Courage, Perceptions, Sensitivy and Racism

photo of: Mayflower Kindergarten Bulletin Board via RainbowsWithinReach


As we approach Thanksgiving in earnest, how much time have you given to considering the original Pilgrims and their unique brand of courage? This is the perfect time for reflecting on courage. It's unlikely that you or I will ever sail across uncharted territory for an unknown destination in defense of our beliefs (short of intergalactic travel ahead.) Yet we each have crossroads of courage to confront. Let's begin with courage.

photo of: Close up of Pilgrims Created with Paper Plates via RainbowsWIthinReach

We each have moments that wake us in the middle of the night or leave us quaking under the bright glaring light of a new responsibility, unexpected assignment or an unforeseen health quagmire. How do you build courage? 
How do you develop resilience in the face of the new -- the unknown -- the challenging? What can we learn from the hearty kindergarten portrayal of Pilgrims as paper plates? The examination of 'history' is tricky business, whether its personal reflection or the documenting of an entire country's metamorphosis over time. 

photo of: Kindergarten Drawings of Native Americans for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWithinReach

In kindergarten, by November it's pretty exciting if all of the children in the room are holding their crayon with competence and writing their first name with ease. Far be it from me to pontificate over the 'gen-u-ine' history of what our countrymen did to those who first lived on this glorious land that I now call home. Imagine attempting to 'teach' the story of the first Thanksgiving to a room full of a couple dozen squirming, restless little ones. Stereotypes and generalizations are typical. Simplification is critical.

photo of: Kindergarten Drawing for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach

The more I blog and enter the cyber-experience, the more I realize how easy it is to offend. I have read amazing 'cyber-conversations' over the feelings of racism that can originate from the portrayal of the Thanksgiving story -- as OVER simplified for young children. These conversations make me exceedingly aware of sharing these images today. 

photo of: Kindergarten Drawing for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach

In fact I am aware that there is not even one 'term' to use for these children's drawings that is accepted by all. Some would use 'Native Americans' while others prefer the term 'Indian'. Since this is not my heritage, I can certainly appreciate that this week is VERY challenging for those who have the deepest roots to this soil. So it is that I call for the greatest sensitivity possible, for ALL concerned.

photo of: Kindergarten Drawing for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach

[I have read entire conversations where bloggers are unaware that a child's 'Indian-costume-for-Halloween' could be viewed as racist by native peoples. Likewise I remember a whole series of conversations about the use of the term 'Eskimo' used in a teaching packet of materials being considered offensive by some. So where does the teaching begin? We need to listen to one another. Many have never heard of the concept "people first" when referring to a child with special needs, ie: a child with Down Syndrome vs. a Down Syndrome child. It all makes much more sense when you are walking any given experience personally. The issues go WAY beyond political correctness, which become exceedingly clear when the issues are near and dear to you.]

photo of: Kindergarten Drawing for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach
Marvel at the amazing details portrayed by this kindergarten artist.
I offer these glorious drawings here as a celebration of diversity as interpreted through the eyes of children. I am aware that their simplification and feathered portrayals have the potential to open very real pain for some whose own heritage was pillaged. Yet I believe that it is with the children that we can start a dialogue of acceptance and appreciation. It is with the children that we can extend a new era of tolerance and acceptance.

photo of: Kindergarten Drawing for Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach

As we sit down to turkey and every possible seasonal goodie ahead, let us reflect on courage and heritage. Let us consider cultural sensitivity. Let us acknowledge that our great nation was born through strife that is yet to be resolved. Let us hold hands together with the children and count our many blessings, doing our best to appreciate those who are different than our own family. Let us listen to those whose experience is different than our own.

photo of: Bulletin Board of Kindergarten Drawings of Indians in a Celebration of Thanksgiving via RainbowsWIthinReach

Let us give everyone, especially the teachers charged with the responsibility of opening the study of history to young minds, the benefit of doubt. Let us celebrate all that makes this country great. Let us appreciate our diversity and depth of personal stories. Let us give thanks. Let us be courageous as we move forward and think long and hard about all that we can do to support one another, whatever style moccasins we wear.

photo of: Kindergarten Rules and Reminders via RainbowsWithinReach

P.S. One of my cyber-kinder teacher friends shared that yesterday one of her kinder kiddos remembered the name of the boat that the Pilgrims sailed on as "The Cauliflower." Yes. We that work with young children know that we need to keep the message simple. Tolerance and acceptance. 

P.S.2. All of this amazing artwork and the projects in today's post are from the hallways of Dr. Rodriguez Elementary in southern Texas, just a few miles from the Mexican border. I'm appreciative of all that they have done to tell the Thanksgiving story with insight and sensitivity. As a former Art teacher I absolutely MARVEL at the depth of the children's drawings -- their attention to detail and capability. These drawings were created with care and the blessing of time. Thank you teachers.

-- Debbie -- 

It's time to announce the big news! This is my first time to participate in TeachersPayTeachers Cyber Mon+Tues SALE! I have already scheduled my store to go on sale at 20% off beginning on Monday.
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -


If you've ever considered a purchase of my traditional picture books with their CD insert -- this is THE BEST deal ever offered! My digital downloads as well!!

**I've added this post and announcement over at the 3AM Teacher with a link-up to others in the big sale. 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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