Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tiger/spider paradox

Recent illustrations for BIG CLASS, a project from a friend's classroom.

The Tiger Ate the Spider

By Donnelle Roberts

Once upon a time there was a little spider and a tiger. The tiger played football. He wanted someone to play with him. Then the spider came. But the spider got mad because he couldn’t score. Then, the tiger was mad because the spider was going to quit. Then the tiger ate the spider.

The end.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Prison / Freedom

I listen to NPR every morning and evening these days, WWNO 89.9, and now that I'm older I find that I don't hate hearing the news like I did when I was a kid and my dad would alternately play classical music (lots of opera) and trying to hear the traffic one minute after the hour. Events in Egypt and Tunisia have me constantly tearing up on my commute to and from school and I wonder what kind of world my future kids could/will have. Does overthrowing a repressive government and ousting a dictator make you free? When will we be free?

And I think about the world that my students live in. This insular space that is being poor and living in New Orleans and being an immigrant or black or Honduran or Chinese or Vietnamese and not having family structures or personal discipline and I think sometimes, what does it matter where or how you live if you are not free? I think about my own life and how so often I feel trapped and enclosed by my own personal faults and failures, my narrow mind, my ever sadness and deep loneliness.

I've been struggling the last few days thinking about how to present these beautiful events of community power and love for country and people in a way to my kindergarten class that does not evoke the violence they see in their home and neighborhood, or revive past traumas of disaster and looting (mental and emotional memories of Katrina and aftermath as they were just being born and shuffled from trailer to city to apartment to school). Being 5 years old is so different from being 23 and not so different at all.

Freedom and then I want to say free/doom and then I think to myself that no, I can't believe that free will be disaster, chaos, I want freedom and I want it to mean something joyful and kind and sweet. I want a freedom that is not guilty about tears (regardless of emotion). I want a freedom that is uncoaxed smiles and unfearful silences and having friends that I can love and not be afraid to show it. I want it for my children and my students and my own self.