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Can you tell I am having fun creating fonts? When I was in primary school and high school one of my all time favourite books was the very well worn 'lettering' book from the school book club sitting on my sister's book shelf. It was dark blue and was spiral bound. There was a copy in the school library too. It was ALWAYS out! It was one of those treasured books, that everyone wanted to borrow and when you got it, you felt very important. I was at primary school when we still had little yellow envelopes in the back of every book with cardboard index card to fill out when a book was borrowed..... o how times have changed.
The hours I spent with that lettering book and learning how to trace! My Dad was very good at drawing and actually 'teaching' me how to draw - one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping children to be creative and teaching them the skills. So many children get frustrated with a big empty white piece of paper or a box full of empty junk containers and told to 'be creative', like it should come naturally because they are children. A gifted primary school teacher can very sensitively encourage children to be creative and give them lessons in specific skills and techniques.
I know of a little girl that was recently asked to bring to preschool a 'craft book' that she talked about with one of her teachers. This teacher told her she could share it with the class and that the other children might like to make a seahorse like she had done at home, in their craft corner. This little girl was delighted and very proud to take her craft book to school and could not wait to show her friend how to make a seahorse and share the techniques that she had learned at home. She had learned early literacy skills in following a prcedure, tracing skills, spatial awareness, fine motor, cutting, symmetry, not to mention paper and craft techniques... so many....
The book was put in the staffroom, along with the little seahorse that she had taken to show. And there is stayed. For weeks. Every day after school the little girl would ask when the teachers were going to let her share. The little girl was told by her mummy that the teachers would get to it when they had time. A monthly newsletter came home from preschool sometime later with a prominent paragraph about their philosophy on creativity. "No egg carton caterpillars" in this preschool it said! And a few other pointed remarks about giving children craft and art activities with a set finished end product.
So the bag with the craft book came home, along with the lovely little seahorse.
And the little girl continued to bring home her 'junk' craft that consisted of tissue boxes with pom poms and pipe cleaners stuck on with sticky tape. And they were just as beautiful, and her mummy adored them just as much.
Her mummy only wondered why the little girl, for two years, had to continually bring home dozens and dozens of empty tissue boxes, food packet, cardboard cylinders that had little bits of craft shop supplies stuck on them. Yes they were entirely her daughter's own work. Yes she still loved them. Yes she could agree with a 'no end-product' philosophy. But what were those teachers giving instead? A box full of junk boxes and sticky tape? And two years of the same skills and results. Every. Day.
Is there room for something in between? She thought so!
And so do I. I was sad when I heard this story. Sad for the little girl - she only learnt that her interests didn't matter to her teachers. The kid that was interested in mud pies and the dirt pit got to share his passion, but the craft book was clearly evil and could only be hidden. The story also made me acutely aware that as teachers we really need to think about a situation in its entirety. We may be thinking of a situation or learning experience in one way and miss another entirely. OK, the book didn't fit their philosophy, but the benefit that could have been gained for that little girl to share her interests and her story with her friends would have been grand.