As many of you know, I recently began a credential program at Cal State L.A. to become a special ed teacher. As part of my first class, we must observe actual K-12 classrooms for 45 hours before the quarter's up.
I signed on with a kindergarten class near my home, and I also got suckered into being a teacher's assistant rather than "observer," so they're getting 30 hours of hard labor from me for free. Today was my fourth session with the class, and let me tell you--kindergartners are a knock out. A lot of you who have children may remember this from when your own were five, but the last time I was around such small children I was a babysitting teenager, and much more interested in teenage affairs rather than light-up sneakers.
There's one kid who cracks me up, Lucas, I haven't gotten much of a chance to talk to him, but I like him because he's just so well-behaved. The teacher assigns a worksheet and he gets right to it, no dilly-dallying at all. Today the kids were coloring in jaguars, and all the other kids were topping each other--"My jaguar has a pink jeweled crown and lives in a purple forest," "My jaguar is blue with silver machine claws," and Lucas sat there quietly and colored in an orange jaguar, living in a forest of brown tree trunks and green leaves. It's not that he's shy or maladjusted--he gets along with the other kids well and seems perfectly happy--it's just that he doesn't carry the normal ego trappings of a regular five year old. It's like he's just waiting to get to college so he can really show us what he's about. At lunch--this is the image that sticks in my mind--I watched all the kids picking at their lasagna, throwing bits of bread at each other, whacking each other, yelling at each other. Teachers surrounding them, directing them back to their seats, telling them to eat their apple slices. In the middle of the maelstrom sat Lucas, staring into space, diligently eating a seaweed (seaweed!) snack that had been prepared by his parents. I could just see his little mind working...I think it was saying,"Look at these idiots around me. Where did I leave that copy of the New York Times?" Probably the future of green technology right there.
Another girl, Jerlyn, is great because she has style that would have made her part of Oscar Wilde's inner circle. She says everything in a dramatic voice and already seems to have developed a sense of comic timing. We were talking about Halloween costumes a couple of weeks ago, and at first she told me hers was a secret. But she told me she would give me clues. "Well, she's very beautiful, she's very rich, and she flies all over the world." Is it Paris Hilton? I thought. "What is it? A princess?" I asked. "Nooo," she said,"a fairy." I guess fairies are rich in her world. Today, a few of us were looking at Myles' jaguar picture, and I commented that I liked the colors he had used a lot--bright tomato orange and turquoise. "Those are rock and roll colors," said Jerlyn."Do you want to know why he used those colors?" she asked. "Why?" "Because this" she said as she held up his drawing,"is a piece of rock and roll."
This is a fabulously fun time, so long as they don't have sharp objects.