Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Coloring Squirrels

In kindergarten I remember I was afraid to call the teacher by her name, Mrs. Breckenfelder, so I just called her "Hey." From what I recall, she did not appreciate the name "Hey" and spoke to the class about it.

I also remember she did not appreciate my coloring of a picture of a squirrel she had given to us. It was a simple line drawing of a squirrel on a page. We were supposed to color the squirrel and hand it in.

The picture was just a squirrel, no tree, no acorn, no grass, nothing but a squirrel. Since I had never seen just a squirrel with no background, no surroundings and doing nothing I accessorized my coloring sheet that day. As soon as I finished coloring the squirrel I brought the picture to life with grass for the squirrel to run in, a tree in the background with a hole in the trunk for an owl to look out, an atmosphere (sky) with the sun shining through and, of course, I gave the squirrel an acorn to hold with a few scattered around in the grass for him to pick up later.

I knew I had maximized my use of space and colors. I really felt I had connected with the project I was assigned. So when I had thoroughly spent my creativity and my skill on this assignment I walked to the desk to place it in the stack of the other colored squirrels.

What happen next was one of my first experiences with being blind sided by the unexpected. "Hey" took my coloring sheet and instead of studying it with appreciation for the colorful details she called me back up front. "Hey" rebuked my picture and challenged my ability to follow directions.

I remember wondering what "Hey" was upset about. I found myself incapable of following her logic as she spoke. One of the conclusions I came to at an early age was that teachers do not think in real world scenarios. My modus operandi in school for the next many years was to give the teachers minimal effort and save my resources and creativity for myself. Teachers would see the results of B and C effort, but I would save the A+ effort and extra credit for my own dreams and projects.

It worked well. In the end everyone got what they wanted . . . and they all lived happily ever after.

Here is a photo of my kindergarten class. I am the first one on the left, the smart looking kid, with the red shirt and black collar. "Hey" is the tall person in the brown sweater. Take note of how high the windows are in this building since they become an important part of my second grade experience two years later (more on that in a few more days.)

Mr. Wiemers

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