Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All the Lies They Told Along the Way

Sometime in my childhood, it was decided that I cannot draw or paint. It was also decided that my handwriting was atrocious. Thus, I hated drawing, painting, or turning in written work. I would never do it unless absolutely necessary. But in the past few years, I've discovered that, as it turns out, I actually like to do these things, as long as no one is judging me. In my non-language classes in college, I was wont to fill entire pages with doodles of little things that make me happy like starfish and hot air balloons. Yet, when my boss' husband asked me in my first few days at school if I drew, my answer was a definitive, "No." The next day, he found me in one of our miniature chairs at our short table drawing elaborately bizarre sketches for stationary. My boss, later on, requested that I paint a dinosaur on the wall of our science corner. While I recognize that it is a caricature of a dinosaur, it's still distinctly dinosaur-y. His name is Steve.

Steve looked lonely, so I painted little Tommy here.

And then I went for the tree. Granted, my branching patterns leave a lot to be desired and my owl might also be a penguin, you can at least tell what I'm going for. And does it matter that my silly paintings aren't perfect? Does it matter that I cannot for the life of me make a face, human or otherwise? If I love painting and drawing, why do I let memories from early childhood still haunt me, still tell me that I shouldn't?

I know it couldn't have been my mother who discouraged my (in)artistic abilities. So, I have to assume it was a teacher in school. It could have been either my second or third grade teacher, both of whom treated my poor handwriting as a sign of my willful disregard for their eyes rather than a sign of delayed development of fine motor skills. Why was I made to feel so guilty for my poor handwriting and my unclear illustrations?

I try to keep these questions and memories in mind as I shape the futures of my own students. It's easy for a teacher to say they encourage every child, but somewhere along the way, children become seriously discouraged. Whatever is going on in my life outside of school, once I enter that door, those kids are the only thing that matter.


  1. This is so thoughtful. I like to think that all the best teachers consider such things before class.

    I love reading your blog!! :)


  2. Keko! Are you my Wellesley stalker?!

  3. HAHA

    yeah its me :) I have a blog-reading obsession. You're on my list.