Friday, May 14, 2010

Eat my words...

So... I spent the day at hippy school today, and it was me that learned a lot.

There were a couple of Billy triumphs (I'll get to those in a minute), but the humbling learning came from the three boys who I had assumed had been trying to humiliate Billy a couple of days ago. We sat down (the boys, Billy, his teacher and I) and had a chat about what had happened.

I won't go into details, but it seems like they weren't targeting Billy at all. I misunderstood. They were genuinely asking kids the question 'do you have a house?' and gathered quite a range of responses (houses, hotels, apartments, flats, two houses...)

Big Mama lion swiped her claws a little too fast. And for that I apologise. Though now that I write this, I'm not sure if I apologised to the boys. Ah crap.

Hippy school is truly confronting, and exacting and inspiring... it's no easy task to be a human being in that environment, and that's what makes the lows and the highs so meaningful.

I stay at school on Fridays and help any kids who want to make films. They set out with video cameras and put togehter all sorts of audio-visual things. There are overly serious news stories, stop frame animations starring C3PO and whacky interviews with chairs and trees.

Billy, amazingly, is not stuck to my side at all. He has his friends to wrestle with and chase. He has his teacher to request 'scruffles' from, and he has choices to make - because it is Free Friday, after all.

Today, he completed a project on Green Iguanas. I write this like it happens all the time. This is totally the first time I have seen him complete a project. It had coloured cardboard and pictures and text he had typed up and cut and pasted. It has a few iguana skin looking decorations on it... it was a project alright, and it's up on the wall in his classroom right now.

You have got to love a school that values the expression over the motor skills. His fine motor skills are not good (although the beautiful beaded necklace he made in the craft room in the afternoon totally makes a liar out of me), and writing is a processing struggle. He spells beautifully (with appropriate 6 year old mistakes like 'vegertibels'), has a great memory and a lovely imagination, but pulling all of that together and making pencil marks on paper at the same time... waaaay too hard. So he types. And he gets the project done.

We do work on the writing, and we will always work on the writing. But the confidence that comes from being able to process your ideas into something that can be shared and understood by others... that's something that drilling handwriting skills just can't achieve.

Kudos too, to the wonderful kids in Billy's class who shared a non-patronising smile as they patched together the word 'IGUANA' from the bendy, big, badly placed letters on the poster heading. It's not patronising because they see the level of information in the project and genuinely go, 'Cool...' and because they have lived experience of how hard he has worked to get those letters looking like they do. One very special child turned to me today, as Billy was writing his name at the bottom of the Green Iguana Poster and said, 'That is the neatest writing I have ever seen!'

So... lessons learned at school this week are many and varied.

1. Stay calm and remember that it might not be as bad as you think.
2. Good teachers are amazing, and work like freaking trojans for their money.
3. Children are not always stinky, evil or nasty.
4. Green Iguanas look like dinosaurs.
5. Necklaces made by small children are always the coolest things. Ever.

Man, am I glad it's the weekend.


Katie said...

I am so glad those boys weren't being awful.
Life's all about lessons... I learn a lot of them the hard way, LOL - as long as you learn, the mistake's not in vain :)
Sweet Billy pic!!!

Lisa said...

A wise woman once advised 'Writing is completely different from penmanship', and for kids like Billy and Dreamer it's important to keep the two widely separated.

She never used the term 'writing' to refer to the act of putting pencil to paper. That was 'penmanship' and could be practiced by copying out text.
'Writing' was creating, and could be practiced by dictation or typing or whatever was easiest.

I learnt this too late for Dreamer - he had already associated penmanship = ridiculously difficult = I can't write.

Heather said...

So great that Billy is doing well and that your worries have been put to rest-for now! LOL But really, I would've done and thought the same thing that you had about those boys. It's our maternal instinct to want to naturally protect our young :) I sure wish Sean could go to hippy school. I am in love with the sounds of it evertime I read about it!

CindyPDX said...

You are an amazing mom with the most adorable amazing boy! Sending ((hugs)) your way.