In a message dated 8/21/2002 4:34:50 PM Eastern Standard Time, Nnaell@aol.com
> As an adult who was deeply affected I will
> personally reflect and remember and pay my respects. But my students are
> young, I don't know if I am far enough removed emotionally to teach a
> to them.
I am new to this list so please forgive me for jumping right in. I am not a
teacher but I would like to add a few words. I respectfully disagree that
elementary school children, at least grade three and up, are too young to at
least talk about the subject. I was three years old when JFK was shot and I
have vivid recollections not only of that day but the day Oswald was shot. I
wish someone had sat down to explain things to me. I had a deep sense that
the world was out of control and I felt very unsafe.
I am a professional storyteller and a few days after September 11th last year
I was storytelling to a group of children at an after school program. They
ranged from grades 1 - 4. I had wrestled and worried all week about how to
approach the subject, if I should approach it at all. What I did was begin by
simply saying "I am sure you all know that something tragic happened this
week." Immediately the hands shot up and the children clamored to share
their stories about how the day had affected them and their families. One
little girl raised her hand and said, "My kitty cat died this week." Amidst
all the horror she needed validation for her loss.
I then told stories that dealt with conflict resolution. One folktale was
titled The War Between the Sandpiper and the Whales. Brief synopsis: They are
each greedy with the water and land and to outdo each other until they
realize that to survive they must get along. I asked the children at the end
of the story, "Who do you think won?" Of course I heard, the whales, no the
sandpipers, until one child raised her hand and said, "No one." It lead to a
discussion about respecting peoples differences and sharing.
Another tale was about the sun and the wind, who is the strongest. In the
end, it is the sun who gently uses it's warmth, not the harsh, strong wind
who makes the man remove his coat. The children understood the message, might
is not right.
I can't remember the other stories right now but I do remember I ended by
giving the children a picture of a white dove on construction paper. At the
top it said, "I can make a difference by _______" and they were to color the
bird and fill in the blank. Afterwards we made a peace tree out of all the
doves for display at the school.
That afternoon a mother came early to pick up her child and stayed to hear
the stories. I was nervous that she might be upset because we were talking
about the unspeakable. She stayed for the complete session and afterwards
came up to thank me for handling is so delicately with the children.
Children need and deserve to be heard. This is the way I choose to let them
speak. Hopefully you will find your own way. Thanks for letting me share.
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