The other day, one of my students was stuck on a poem she was writing about herself and her family, and I suggested she include some of her Wonderings. Hardly missing a beat, she said she wonders what her next family will be like. For a moment, I was perplexed. She had just written and told me about how happy she was with her family! Why was she writing something about leaving her family? Then it clicked – “Oh! Do you mean like in a next life?” Yes. Of course. This child’s writing reminded me or helped me realise that not only does community of inquiry change our beliefs, our prior beliefs influence what we’re even able to wonder about in the first place. She wrote a beautiful, unique poem with ideas it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to include, because I don’t have the schema for reincarnation that she does. I’m up in the middle of the night now wondering about what else I might wonder about if my prior beliefs were different. #lovinglearningfrommykids
Welcome to your latest installment of thought-provoking questions kids ask me. When kids ask, it’s usually genuine surprise – they actually do not realize that most people grow hair all over their bodies. Why would they? If their only models of adolescent/adult cis-gender women are people who remove all the visible hair other than what’s on their scalp, how would they know? I was lucky to be raised by women who discussed body changes openly and honestly with me since I was very young, but I imagine it’s a surprise to many children when they begin to grow body hair, the way it is a surprise to some young people when they start menstruating. The interesting thing to me is that kids do not tend to see it as something bad, just sometimes interesting if it’s outside of their experience. “Why do you have hair,” a non-judgemental genuine question of curiosity, is related to but different from the question I get asked by older people. Why is the default to ask “Why don’t you shave,” when no one ever asks “Why do you?”
Hurray for one of my co-counsellors at youth activist camp who just got a letter to the editor published! She explores the question, “So why is veganism so popular with the younger crowd?” The answer to why someone would leave vegan is going to be different for each person. When kids (or adults) ask me why I’m vegan, it’s a simple answer (one of the very few questions I do have a simple answer for!): I live a vegan lifestyle (not a diet) because I don’t believe anyone else’s body is mine to take. I’ve recently come across this brilliant article that I’d also suggest reading after reading Claire’s letter to the editor. ❤ in love and solidarity always. http://i.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/83820068/i-dont-eat-meat-because-im-a-feminist
Claire writes extensively about health and environmental impacts, and continues: “The most common reason for this, however, is the most obvious: animals. People care about animals and don’t want to see them harmed. The animal agriculture industry slaughters over 56 billion farmed animals each year. It’s estimated that each person eating a standard diet consumes close to 200 animals per year. That’s 7,000 animals in a lifetime.”
By CLAIRE TAMBURELLO
When the word “trendy” is mentioned, veganism isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Reports show that maybe it should be. Despite the common perception of those who abstain from animal products as lone hippies, smelling of patchouli and organic tofu, more people than ever are following a vegan diet.
According to The Vegetarian Times, 3.2 percent of Americans follow a vegetarian diet. That adds up to around 7.3 million people in the US alone. Even more-around 7 percent of Americans identify as “flexitarian”: a person who consumes less meat than they would on a standard diet.
Young people in particular seem to be most inclined towards meat-free meals. Nearly half of all vegans are under the age of 34, while only 14 percent are over 65 years old. So why is veganism so popular with the younger crowd? It may have to do…
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Four-year-old: [looking up from Lego helicopter] What are those dots on your face?
Me: They’re called acne. I’m not sick. They’re just part of my skin. Most people get some pimples when they become teenagers, and a lot of people, like me, have them as adults too. They come and go.
Four-year-old: They look icky.
Me: Sometimes they feel icky on my face, too, and other times they feel fine. Sometimes I even forget they’re there.
Four-year-old: But I don’t have them.
Me: I know, not yet. You’ll probably get some when you’re a teenager, but you may not. Not everyone does.
Four-year-old: [silence as he plays with Lego set]
Four-year-old: [suddenly reaches toward my face]
Me: Please stop and wait. Were you wanting to feel the dots on my face?
Me: Okay. That’s fine with me. It’s just important to always ask before you touch someone’s body. Can you try asking, “May I please touch the dots on your face?”
Four-year-old: May I please touch the dots on your face?
Me: Sure! I don’t mind. Just please be gentle. Thanks for asking.
Four-year-old: [feels gently, wrinkles nose] Ew. [pulls hand away, smiling]
Me: Yeah, they’re kind of funny sometimes. It’s okay to feel them because I said it’s okay. When you want to touch someone’s body, you just have to ask first if it’s okay. Only if they say “yes,” then it’s okay. If they say “no,” it’s not okay and it’s really important that you respect that. I said yes, so it’s okay.
Four-year-old: [feels my face one more time in interest, then goes back to Legos]
I have a variation on this conversation pretty often. I hope the message gets through. Also. I find it really interesting that it is so, so much easier for me to be body positive around young kids. Most of the time, I’m super self-conscious about my acne (which has been particularly strong for aroung twelve years or so), and really hate it. And then I hate that I hate it, and I feel like a bad feminist, because I know it’s just part of my body that I can’t control, and it doesn’t inherently make me ugly, and I shouldn’t cover myself up, and blah di dah all of that that’s easy to say and difficult to feel. And then I tell myself my feelings are valid anyway. And then I get into a big argument with myself and just end up putting on some basic concealer to go to work and forget about it. Somehow, with four-year-olds, that whole self-conscious narrative just melts away. I’m just me. And they’re just them. And that’s okay. Wow.
“Say that silence is dangerous, and teach them how to speak up when something is wrong.”
It goes without saying that I’ve been reeling with grief and shock this week. Here are some concrete words I was able to pull strength from in my conversations with students this week, from The Huffington Post. The article bears reading in full:
“Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.”
“We need to teach students how to disagree—with love and respect. These skills will be priceless in the coming months and years as we work to build a democratic society that protects the rights of all people ― regardless of the cooperation or resistance those efforts face from the executive branch.”
Now we regroup, and we tell the people we love that they are loved and they matter over and over and over again. My question to myself this week: How can I most effectively leverage my skills and the privileges I have left to stand up for and support the young people who are going to spend a key portion of their formative years under the reign of a bigot who promotes sexual assault?
If you are devoted to this same goal as a fellow educator and/or advocate and/or restless globetrotter, I’d love to hear your ideas below. More to come soon.
Imagine a world without imagination” (!)
Loving these poems written by imaginative Kiwi kids.
… I am bit late posting these as I have in bed with a sore throat …
What a lot of fun you had using your imaginations – to get them sizzling and bouncing and popping in poems. Sometimes the poems made me laugh out loud. But imaginative poems can also be thoughtful, show you different ways of seeing the world. Invent worlds. Imagine how other people do things.
I couldn’t post all the amazing poems – so here is a selection of some I enjoyed.
I am sending a copy of The Letterbox Cat to Oscar and to the class at Greenhithe School.
Do try my last challenge of the year that I am posting tomorrow.
I posted Daniel’s poem first as I loved the way he imagined a world with no imagination!
Imagine a world
There would be no inventions
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