Friday, January 16, 2015

Riding the Bus with Rosa Parks II*!

Today, Kindergarten Circle Time began with a child interpreting the phrase, "blow up the circle."  That phrase typically means that everyone scoots back a bit  from our semi-circle formation so that everyone can fit. Today, however,  it was used to mean "use a bomb to blow up something."   Even after attempts to clarify, the comments of some continued to include talk of bombs, missiles, ship torpedoes and the like and no amount of clever teacher tricks seemed to derail it.   When the conversation died down, however, everyone was reassured that we were safe, no bombs were going to blow up the school as feared and that WE WERE INDEED SAFE. 

The discussion was followed up with a topic that has been permeating in our classroom since the beginning of the school year.  We have had many, many discussions now in Kindergarten about how our words (and deeds) matter.  We have discussed how what we choose to say (and do)- scary, mean, and disrespectful things to others or around others, this impacts us (and others) in many different ways.  I chose this as a perfect introduction to the book I had planned to read today, an excerpt about "Rosa Parks" from a book titled Heroes for my Daughter by Brad Meltzer.   The passage began with the words, "Yes, she was tired..." 

Immediately after reading the book, the children were asked to each grab a chair and arrange them in a bus-like configuration.  They were then asked to stand in a line and were given instructions as to how to, where to, when to, and who could enter the bus.  (By the way, a different  scenario was given for each reenactment to ease some of the angst of such a young crowd.)  Those with a sticker on their hands, those with hats, girls only,  boys only, etc. could walk in front of everyone else in line, enter the "bus" first, sit in the front or wherever they wanted, and could enter through the front door and walk through the bus to their seat.   Others had a different set of expectations. After our game, we discussed our feelings about each scene and gave mixed reviews.  

One child stated, "That was the worst game I ever played!"  

Another child said, "I liked it.  It was fun.  I like games."  

Yet another child said, "This game is boring.  I had to miss the bus because it pulled off before I had a chance to get back on.... after I paid my money in the front....(I had to) get off... and the bus driver decided to pull off (without him)!"

A fourth child also stated that they did not like that they had to "waste money paying again for the next bus" when it pulled off without them.    Two children witnessing the situation offered to give up their seats to the ones that were left behind at the bus stop.  Another child, frustrated in one scenario, beamed when they had an opportunity  to sit where they wanted in the next.    Someone else said, "At least I got a seat."    Another child giggled at the beginning of the game and said, "My skin is white,  I get to sit in the front."  Still other children chose to sit in the back of the bus even though they were technically allowed to sit in the front.  All of the children were speechless when, in one bus stop scene, the bus driver drove by with an empty bus and did not stop to pick up anyone.

Further discussion revealed other impromptu feelings that the children had on the subject.  

One child commented that, "When we had the turn when 'only the boys' were able to sit in the front, that was like how the Taliban women are treated." 

Another Kindergartner mentioned that their Mom said that, "She (Mom) was told that she should not be in her job because she is a girl."

Another Kindergartner remembered the bad feelings felt by one of his classmates of German descent during our Titanic/Lusitania activity back in the fall when someone said that they "did not like the Germans." 

photos by val o. tibbs-wynne
Our discussion ended with the introduction (for some) of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his desire that everyone, including his own children, could live in a world where they would be treated fairly and not based on their skin color.   Also, it was explained that the reason that school will be closed on Monday, January 19th is to observe the birthday of that person who wanted to honor Rosa Parks' feelings of being "tired."   Not the physical kind of tired, but tired of the injustices shown to others.  Dr. King also used some of his own words to try to make laws fair for everyone and  offered ways that he had learned, partly from Mahatma Gandhi, to solve problems peacefully. 

The Heroes for my Daughter passage ended with "... For standing up for herself-by sitting down-Rosa Parks ignited a movement."  

After our morning discussion and activity  I thought hmmmmm..."ignited"... like igniting a an explosion...... like blowing things up...blowing up ignorance, old ways, and complacency... igniting thought- fresh and innocent, and new ideas and change....and hope.  It was an interesting choice of words. 

As I have mentioned in the past, Yes, Kindergarten age is young to introduce the subject of racism and prejudice, but not too young.  As a matter of fact, some studies suggest that the longer we wait to discuss these topics, the more likely (and difficult) it is for us to be open to them and to change one's mind.   One resource on the topic is titled, The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism by Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin

*Feel free to also read the Kindergarten Capers blog post dated January 26, 2012.

Have a peaceful weekend!

(Above & below) The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, across from the National Mall,  Washington D.C.

Monday, January 12, 2015

January Dates at a Glance!

January 2015

This Month's Theme Unit:  Book Journeys

Monday, January 5th            School Resumes!  Happy New Year!
Tuesday, January 6th            Every Tuesday is Sharing Day!
                                                  "Joanna Time" with the Kindergartners,  9:30-10:30 A.M.
                                                  Yoga with Dom, 2 p.m.
Thursday, January 8th          K Buddies/Library Story time, 3 p.m. 
                                                 "Get Warm, Get Connected" library outreach 3:45 P.M.
Sunday, January 11th           SK Open House, 12-2 P.M.
Friday, January 16th             "Freedom Bus Ride" on the AATA, time TBA
Monday, January 19th          No School Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Tuesday, January 20th         Yoga with Dom, 2 p.m.
Friday, January 23rd             Trip to Wild Swan Theatre's "Strega Nona," 9:30 A.M.
Monday, January 26th          No School!  Professional Development day
Thursday, January 29th        Trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 9:30 A.M.