Saturday, November 24, 2007

Flowers are Red - How adults "map" their frame of reference on kids


A colleague recently shared this video with me and it really made me think about how adults often "force" their frame of reference on children. Many schools and teachers are clearly guilty of this but I suspect many of us Moms are too; especially when our children's frame of reference causes additional mess and chaos in our lives (or our houses!!). As you watch this video and the read the transcript copied below, think about how you can support your children's growth and "free spirit" while maintaining your sanity. For me I guess this means the rocks, sticks and other assorted nature items must stay on the windowsill in the kitchen, the art box must remain within arm's reach even though a mess ensues daily, the Christmas tree must have most of the ornaments below 3 feet, and the chalk drawings must continue to greet our visitors on the front porch. I suppose playing in mud during construction is also okay; they had sooo much fun and used their imaginations to the fullest (see picture above). Of course, it means much more as I carefully respond to their daily questions and conversation starters. Being a Mom is certainly an overwhelming job but simple reminders such as those provided in this song can take us a long way.

Of course, I also think technology can take us a long way by allowing children to create, communicate and collaborate in new and exciting ways. In fact, check out the 21st century skills our children will need to be successful in the world we cannot even predict.



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The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And all responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

4 comments:

Erik said...

This post made me think of Expurey's Little Prince. On page one of the book, the narrator describes his world view as a 6 year old (to see the pictures, you'll have to paste the link into your browser: http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/frames.html

For those that don't need the pictures:

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.

In the book it said: "Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion."

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked something like this:

Drawing Number One

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.

But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?"

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:

Drawing Number Two

The grown-ups' response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable.

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

"That is a hat."

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

chriscb said...

My aunt, Margie Donnelly, just sent me the link to your blog. I've just read it and enjoyed the info. I home school my 2 boys, ages 4 and 7. I'll be checking back for more great ideas about using technology with my kids!

Thanks!

Chris Chandler

abaralt said...

This post reminded me of Tomie DePaola's book The Art Lesson. Our school's art teacher reads that book the first day of kindergarten every year. It really sets the tone for kids to express themselves and think outside the box.

Josh said...

What an incredibly powerful message of the incredibly powerful position that teachers are put in. We truly do hold their spirit in our hands. With much power comes much responsibility.