Friday, September 24, 2010

the sky is red and i can't throw a ball

Vicka Sunflowers

"artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue.  those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid."  ~Jules Feiffer (cartoonist, novelist and playwright)

i spent my school years being different. so many times i was told how creative i was and then in the next breath was told to pick three colors and conform.  i wasn't a sports kid and i wasn't a cheerleader type. i was different. i read books- a lot of books. i carried one with me at all times and would often get in trouble for reading when i supposed to be paying attention.

i remember one moment with crystal clarity even though it happened 30 years ago. i was usually way ahead of my classmates in art so i would work on other projects while they were still messing around with the assigned piece. i was interested in fibers and weaving so i set out to teach myself to weave using a large hoop as my loom. one day as i was working on it in class a 'cheerleader' came up to me and looked down her pert freckled nose at me and asked me what i was doing- i told her i was weaving- she responded with a snort 'oh isn't that what they do at new hope village?' and walked away. i stopped doing extra projects in school and did them at home. in secret. where no one could make fun of me. it wasn't until years later that i realized she was one of those people who painted the sky blue because that's what color  it is "supposed" to be.

...i loved history, theatre,art and writing.  i wrote poetry and short stories, created costumes, drew a lot of pictures and attended numerous live performances by professionals and amateurs. i was as comfortable listening to "top 10" as well as NPR's "all things considered"...and spent 12 years hearing teachers tell me i was very smart BUT was NOT working to my full potential * my youngest child is in high school and last spring his favorite teacher told me the administration was phasing out creative writing because it is not practically applicable to today's graduates. what?!?

                         creative writing...

who are these people? what rock do they live under?

my son is a lot like me- except he is really into sports in a way i don't get. but sports aside he loves to write. he has a poem that was published in an anthology of poetry written by middle school kids across the country. not every poem submitted was published. his poem was about music and what it meant to him. i encourage his creativity and his writing. he plays soccer but he's not the best or the fastest and he gets discouraged because he really enjoys soccer.

my son is spending his high school years being different. it means that for him being home on the weekends happens quite a lot. he isn't interested in going out and partying so he often doesn't get called when his buddies are making plans. he's very involved in speech and drama. he's a natural born leader and he writes. a lot.

so it blew me away when this teacher told me about phasing out creative writing. if creative writing and proper writing skills are not taught in high school then when?

when my daughter was in 4th grade she wanted me to read a paragraph she had written for school. i read it and it was written well enough to hand in but for the misspellings. i started to point these out to her and she grabbed her paper back and said 'my teacher said spelling doesn't count' 

spelling doesn't count? when does it begin to count? what's the magical age you reach when all of a sudden spelling counts?

so if we don't make our kids spell correctly and we don't teach them creative writing skills where will our books come from in the future? if we don't nurture talents that encourage creativity and individualism then we are failing our children.

my son is taking creative writing his last 4 semesters of high school. he told me he doesn't care if it's the same information each semester, he is taking it to prove a point and he will argue with his advisor if she tells him he can't.  he wants to be a writer. how can he be a writer if he isn't being challenged to reach his full potential? *perhaps there is a connection here?

i am encouraging him to color his sky red ... and spelling does indeed count.

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