Tuesday, December 15, 2009

School Appropriate Or Stifling a Kid's Self Expression


As a teacher/librarian, one of our roles is to guide our students into choosing appropriate ways of expressing themselves in the class & school setting. But when does guiding them lead to stifling their own creativity?
My first reaction was to ask the question, "Well, if you have to ask?" then maybe what you want to do/say/write/draw is not appropriate for a class assignment.
One of my student's has an assignment where they write a surreal poem. His initial expression was to write that this student's addiction to gum was analogous to an addiction to crack. Then his second choice was an addiction to cigarettes. I told him that probably was not the best analogy. Then he did something about a dog & a bone.
Still, I'm not sure I was very comfortable steering him away from his initial response only because I do feel like I'm "forcing" him to conform and poetry is more expression that convention. Not sure if it was right or wrong but a dog & bone is probably more appropriate than crack & cigarettes...

4 comments:

Jason said...

What gave you pause about him using drugs or cigarettes as a metaphor in this instance?

Anna M. said...

It should give a teacher pause, these are 11-14 year old kids. A high schooler, maybe it would be ok. But in middle school...I would and did think about it. Does that make sense?

Jason said...

I guess I'm curious about what the specific concern is. Is it that the material isn't appropriate for that age group to be discussed in a classroom? Is it because it suggests that the student might be in trouble, that they have knowledge of this kind of behavior? Or, to put it another way, I'd assume there are books that feature characters that smoke cigarettes or that deal with addiction in your library...would you turn middle school age kids away from those books as well?

Anna M. said...

Good question. I didn't want to seem as if I was condoning the behavior. Also, I wouldn't turn a kid away from that material and they see and read and view it all the time. It is something to discuss in class or with a counselor or with a teacher the student is comfortable with.

I think also it was the student asking me the question. Again, it is one of those things where I fall to the "well, if you have to ask" side of things. More for me to think about. Thank you.