Ah – Memories

Carol A. Hand

I just took a quick break to contemplate the ending of a play I have been working on this week. As I sat in my garage thinking, the eagerly anticipated rain began to fall. (We’ve been in a two week heat wave without any rain. Of course “heat” here means any temperatures above 80 F degrees.) As I heard the blessed sound of rain hitting the roof and hard ground, a memory surfaced.

I remembered my daughter’s wonderful story, “The Only Raindrop,” with a mixture of pleasure, sadness, and righteous indignation. And I remembered how amazed I was as I read her story for the first time when she asked me to let her know what I thought before she handed it in to her fifth grade teacher. It’s one of those treasures that were somehow lost in our many moves, and one of the very few that I truly regret losing. (Her original story was far better than the following reconstructed adult version.)

It was a story about a farmer in a drought-stricken prairie. Every day the farmer would check on his gardens and his corn field, and his heart ached as he saw the plants wilting and suffering. He tried his best to keep them watered but it just wasn’t enough. Finally, he couldn’t hold in his grief any longer. He stood in his field and wept as if his heart were breaking. And it was. His sobs were so loud that they attracted the attention of a lonely raindrop in the sky. The raindrop felt sorry for the farmer but wondered what possible difference it would make if it fell on the fields. But the farmer’s sobbing was more than the raindrop could bear, so it decided to fall anyway. It dropped right next to the farmer’s feet.

raindrop

Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art

The farmer was overjoyed. He laughed and jumped and shouted with glee. Other raindrops heard his joyous racket and decided to go down to see what all the commotion was about. And the farmer shouted louder with even greater joy. Other raindrops heard the noise and soon, raindrops were all falling all over his field and gardens. The Only Raindrop did what it could, and because of its sacrifice and the farmer’s joyous thanksgiving, life-saving rain came in time.

rain cloud

Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art

This was an essay worthy of a commendation from my perspective. So when I got the message that my daughter’s teacher wanted to talk to me, that’s the first thing that came to mind. Imagine my reaction when the teacher began by saying she was concerned about my daughter’s work. My daughter needed to learn how to write her own essays. No child could possibly write the kind of stories my daughter handed in without adults helping.

I don’t remember my exact words, but I do know that I let the teacher know that my daughter did indeed write her own stories. And I asked the teacher if her assessment of my daughter’s abilities was based on the fact that her complexion was darker than that of the other students in her class. I let her know that I found her response to my daughter’s creativity and talent insulting and of deep concern. I stood up and told her that I would be carefully watching how she treated my daughter.

How quickly a mother’s pride and joy can turn to anger and concern. Skill and creativity are especially threatening when they come from someone on the margins. But of course, that’s where these qualities are more likely to be found. Is it any wonder that these are also where the worst public schools are located, and the most devastating economic and social conditions? Who knows what the world would become if we eliminated structural oppression and the never-ending assault of macro and micro aggressions?

Well, I need to get back to the play. I did finish the first draft before I fired off this post (You Wouldn’t Want to Hear My Story). Sorry for the rant but this incident still makes me really angry almost forty years later. How could anyone accuse a delightful, talented ten-year old of lying and cheating simply because her skin tone was darker?

Remembering this incident makes me aware of how grateful I am for all of the teachers, bloggers, advocates, and activists who challenge oppression every day. Your actions are like the life-giving rain that finally comes because someone hears what you have to say and spreads the word… Thank you for what you all do!

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
This entry was posted in Reflections and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Ah – Memories

  1. desilef says:

    I am cheering your daughter’s creativity and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Diane 🙂

      (I have finished a first draft of the play you inspired me to write. Of course I need to let it sit before I can edit properly and I still have to write the development history.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joan Treppa says:

    Ah – Inspiring! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ruth says:

    What I’m hearing in your story is the right use of anger. To protect creativity. To defend a young one beginning to find her voice. To respond to the forces that want to silence, dismiss, and invalidate. I am glad to hear that this anger is still with you these many years later. May this type of anger burn fiercely in us for as long as it’s needed.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. sojourner says:

    Beautiful story and a bad taste of public education in Merica.

    I taught music in a performing arts high school. I made most of my living as a performer/composer/arranger. And as a teacher, my first priority, beyond the basic knowledge of music theory, performance and composition, was to instill in my students the ability to imagine and create. Once this was instilled in them, this spark that lit their fuses, the rest was filling in the blanks for me. My students’ imagination and creativity fueled their need to know. The education system “teaches” in the exact opposite manner: tons of information, to be spewed back out on a test, which is void of imagination and thus, in most cases, will not be retained or applied properly.

    Imagination/creativity has no place in public education today, since the imaginative, creative child is a threat to the cog-in-the-machinery system. Your daughter’s imagination, and the creativity it had produced, all those years ago, not only confused this “teacher” it scared him/her.

    Here is an article on this topic, if you have the time?

    https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/imagination-vs-reality-2/

    Hope the play goes well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your wonderful comments, Sojourner, and for the link. Rappoport’s story is fascinating and so relevant.

      I love your discussion about teaching and creativity. I taught social welfare policy and macro practice courses in college – the courses my students most dreaded but in the end, I think they learned more about themselves and the world than in other courses. There were no tests, only applied assignments in the real world that required creativity, critical analysis and reflection. I agree that creativity is threatening to those who are far more comfortable with “group think.” 🙂

      (I’ve never written a play before, so it’s been an interesting challenge. In some ways I think it may be a better way to share important stories. It’s due for review on August 15, so I have a little time to work with the first draft…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • sojourner says:

        “There were no tests, only applied assignments in the real world that required creativity, critical analysis and reflection.”

        Excellent! This is the way all education should be! Application as learning is taking place, what better teaching environment can there be!!

        If the powers controlling education cared at all about students and learning, they would look to the arts first to see how to teach effectively, since we in the arts have a head start: music, theater, dance, fine arts all begin with imagination, creation and problem solving.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I so agree that the arts are ahead of the curve on this. Perhaps that’s why they’re the first on the chopping block when budgets are cut.

          In fact, students in one of my classes drew on the arts to engage in policy interventions. As a class, they created a social justice action network and developed an incredibly creative skit about inequality. The performed it in put it on in the student union and had printed letters ready for signatures and a computer link to write emails so those who attended the skit could contact their legislators. (Sad to say, though, my faculty colleagues consistently told me I wasn’t a good teacher. But really, I didn’t care because I thought the same about them, only my assessment was based on compelling evidence.)

          Liked by 2 people

  5. sojourner says:

    P.S.

    I hope you have great success with your play!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sojourner says:

    We were frowned upon by many of the academic teachers. You know why? Because, like you, our kids were learning and creating at a higher level than theirs! You would have had my vote and support!!

    What your students accomplished, through your teaching, is a wonderful example of what education should be all about! Those young people will never forget that, and it will probably
    open doors to their imagination and creativity they might never experienced.

    We actually did multi-media pieces with my composers/performers working with the dance, theater and fine arts dept. We put on a Spring concert every year. And one year, there was a professional art display of environmental art. We asked the artists if our kids could choose one of their pieces and create a composition/dance piece. The artists jumped right on board, and they even allowed the dancers to involve their environmental art in the choreography. A few of the artists showed up for the performance and raved about the kids.

    I used to go to the back, during these events, where I could see but not be seen and ball like a baby. Those kids were truly amazing. They had all levels of talent, but when they worked together, the more talented lifted the less up. I saw this happen over and over again, not drag down, but lift up.

    Why does everything have to be the complete opposite of these kinds of experiences. How much better the world would be if all of us were truly set free to imagine and create the way we can?

    Sorry, didn’t mean to go on!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Debra says:

    Seeing what teachers do to kids — through carelessness or cruelty or just being oblivious — is so heart breaking. Your daughter is so lucky she had YOU to watch her back. SO many kids just get squashed. And yeah there are some good teachers but one small mean spirited act can sometimes reverberate for a life time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely story your daughter wrote and it has so much compassion and creativity! I would certainly be very upset and angry at this teacher. I hope she tread lightly and thought more of her actions after that encounter. Every little raindrop or voice will have ripple effects so nothing is really wasted because it may make a difference to others that we may never see but it is no less special. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Barbara. Discrimination is such a challenging issue to address effectively. People are often so unaware of their automatic assumptions about others, or unaware that their erroneous assumptions can case a life time of challenges if the targets of their actions believe they are inferior or the world is unfair, especially if their discrimination is repeated targeted toward children. I hope the teacher learned something… And blessings to you, too ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your daughter’s story is wonderful and you and she should make it into a children’s book to share with the world. Your anger was justified and well expressed. Bravo to you and your gifted daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Time to end oppression by reclaiming the commons. Recently I’ve been studying up on the enclosure movement, which is global and and started in the 14th century. Turns out most oppression boils down to having your shit stolen. This is what the Indian Wars were mainly about. The early Native Americans wanted to continue to live communally and in tune with the earth, as they had always done. Thomas Jefferson wanted to divide up their land, turn it into private property and sell it to rich people. So he called in the US military to seize the land – violent.

    Violent enclosures have been most extreme in the 20th century, with banks stealing our homes and pensions, insurance companies seizing our health care system and multinationals privatizing and destroying our environment. Now they want to privatize (for profit) the Internet, our new commons.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Silvia TIC says:

    It touched my heart for many reasons. One is the actual drought we are experiencing here in BC and I know is hurting and creating wildfires everywhere fro Alaska to California and beyond, destroying old growth trees and rainforest in irs way…
    It touched me because of the powerful idea of one little being stretching without knowing whether it will make a difference ( just because it is the right thing to do)
    But I was really touched by the story of your daughter because I had a similar experinece and have repeatedly seen how teachers misinterpreted my sons and other children without taking the time to truly know them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such thoughtful comments, Sylvia. The severe, unpredictable weather events and environmental consequences of global climate change are deeply disturbing, and it is hard to believe that our efforts will have any positive impact at all. And as you so eloquently point out, instead of creating a learning environment that inspires inquisitiveness and creativity, the very qualities we most need to address these predicaments, we crush children’s spirits and fill their heads with nonsense (in my opinion). Yet I do have hope because of people like you, my dear friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lara/Trace says:

    Truly truly your daughter has a gift as do you… (we should post this on the MIX) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. hsampson says:

    Beautiful story, Thank you for sharing it Carol! Mother and daughter are brilliant!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Robbie says:

    Carol-this happened to my daughter multiple times in her schooling here locally. My husband is a school psychologist, I let him go in the first time in second grade. Then in 5th grade I had to talk to the principal. LOL. She won a local scholarship for being a future writer her senior year and once she left elementary school her abilities caught up to here age:-) I am an educator and it astounds me how stupid people really are and is usually is not the kids-LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robbie, thank you for sharing your experiences with teachers who couldn’t celebrate children’s creativity. I’m glad to hear that it didn’t extinguish your daughter’s gifts and confidence 🙂

      (It astounds me also that educators, who have the ability to inspire or repress, too often chose the latter.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robbie says:

        You would love this song Carol-
        When I was in Graduate school for Elementary education-a gal did a project in fostering creativity and used this song for a presentation-made me sad to listen to the story about this song + his band. We saw him before he died in the 70’s-great song writer!
        You’ll love this Carol, but knowing you I have no doubt you know this song:-)

        Flowers are Red
        by Harry Chapin

        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 are 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.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. hsampson says:

    Hello Carol! I invite you to take a look at this: http://wp.me/p5trJ-sa.
    Thanks you!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Tiny says:

    What a wonderful story! Very creative as well as positive – with several messages to us 🙂 Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on mentalhealthmeanderings and commented:
    What a beautiful blog, couldn’t help sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Back to School? Ah – Memories | THE MIX, a weekly look at mixed ancestry

  19. Hildegard | Chez Hildegard says:

    What a delightful and inspiring story your daughter came up with! I hope the play goes well (why wouldn’t it?) and maybe your daughter might also consider making her story into a children’s book? 🙂 I appreciate everyone’s comments on the education aspect. So much depends on the individual teacher – a raindrop, so to speak. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments, Hildegard. I have always loved this story by my daughter. Your comment about teachers being like raindrops is so appropriate. Some are like gentle rain that bring forth life, while others “rain on our parade” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. jncthedc says:

    We do what we do because we care. The motive is pure and honest. Our goals leave this world a better place to live in. The messages we deliver simply need minds willing to listen. Change is slow, but change is inevitable in a dynamic world.

    Thank you for viewing my blog site and taking the time to read my message. I hope it stimulates thought, action and discussion. Wishing you the best life has to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for sharing your important insights about caring and change, JNC. I also appreciate your kind words and blessings and wish you the same 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s