Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Childhood magic vs. reality

BabyGirl's school has themes for each month around which all the lessons revolve. This month's theme is literary genres.

Here's part of an email from her Kindergarten Teacher Extraordinaire:

During the month of February, the Lower School is
exploring literary genres. Teachers have chosen a
genre to study with their class. I have chosen Folktales.
As a bridge between January [African American history]
and February’s themes, last week we read from More
Tales of Uncle Remus: Father Adventures of Br'er
Rabbit, His Friends, Enemies, and Others
as told by
Julius Lester. This week we will be reading from: The
People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
retold by
Virginia Hamilton.

Last Friday, we had a preliminary discussion regarding
the difference between fiction and nonfiction. After an
explanation of the categories, I showed the children
books and they told me if they thought they were fiction
or nonfiction. When I showed them a Disney version of
Winnie the Pooh, a debate erupted. Some children
thought it should be fiction and others insisted that it
was nonfiction. The reasoning for it being nonfiction was
that several children had “seen” Winnie the Pooh
“for real.” Cinderella was also nonfiction because several
children had seen the real Cinderella at Disneyland.
Despite convincing arguments from both camps, no one
budged from their original stance. Hopefully, the rest
of my examples will be less controversial.

Any guess who instigated the debate? That would be my BabyGirl.

Despite her familiarity with basic literary genres, she's adamant that Pooh and Cinderella are nonfiction. And I just don't have the heart to disabuse her of that notion. That kind of childhood magic has such a short shelf life, I just don't have the heart to hasten its end.

Gratefully, Kindergarten Teacher Extraordinaire didn't get all I'm-the-teacher-and-I-know-all-the-answer-y (which would have been totally unlike her). Instead, she simply commented that BabyGirl--and the others in her camp--had a good point, and let it go at that.

Respect for the brevity of childhood magic, respect for different points of view, modeling the behavior I hope BabyGirl continues to develop.

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