Colour them turtles faster, Boy….

My friend’s nephew  in kindergarten was given a detention for not colouring his turtles in fast enough in art class.

You have to wonder if the teacher knew that the future of the free world hinged on the speed at which a 6 year-old coloured in a bunch of turtle.

It makes me think of the Harry Chapin song about the boy who colours flowers all the colours of the rainbow but a teacher has different ideas.

Flowers are Red
by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me…..

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It’s for your own good..
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin’
She said…Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

It puts me in mind of the time when I was in Grade 6 and we were being taught cursive writing. I was writing the words down and the Principal walked by (my home room teacher). “The cross on your Ts need to be perfectly flat. Yours are at an angle. Make them flat!”

I continued to make the crosses at a slight angle. Pretend it’s a roof. Make the roof flat so the water won’t tun off!”

He finally kept me in for recess to “practice” making the “rooves flat so the rain wouldn’t run off them”.

1) Who gives a shit it your Ts are crossed  perfectly horizontally and 2) Why would you want water building up on your roof? Even in Grade 6, I knew that you don’t want a flat roof collecting water.

If teacher spent as much time on things like spelling and grammar instead of on nonsensical things like how fast you colour turtles or if “your rooves are flat on your Ts” maybe we would have kids coming out of school who could read and write … and paint and draw well.

And before anyone gets on my case about the spelling of “rooves” we were taught in school that the plural of roof is rooves, just as the plural of hoof is hooves , the plural of dwarf is dwarves, and the plural of knife is knives… Just because everyone under the age of 30 THINKS they invented this English language, they did not.

And, I have news for you… It is a SANDWICH not a “sammich, WEDNESDAY not “Wensday” (or even “Wensdey”, and FEBRUARY not “Febuary”. Just because some asses have decided to allow lazy people to spell or pronounce the words incorrectly doesn’t make it correct.


  1. June 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Oh, don’t get me started. What makes me cringe is the wanton mis-use of “have”, plus the non-use of it when required: “I seen my friends at Walmarts yestidday” is a common phrase here. Oh yes, Walmart is almost always pluralized, goodness only knows why.

    Regarding penmanship class, I actually posted about this once:

    The whole fostering of artistic vision a la the American public school experience is perfectly rendered in the poem you quoted. I think it is a shame and a scandal. I can’t tell you how many people I have met who have been browbeaten into believing that they are not creative, but just such tactics as illustrated in that piece.

    • June 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

      “BY” just such tactics. Geez. My two hours of sleep last night is showing up in my brain function.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      I have been watching a number of home renovation programs recently and the number of professionals who refer to “joistes” (as a plural, apparently of joists) is incredible.

      Of course, being in a bilingual environment, one comes across many understandable errors in the use of words or phrases by people whose first language is French (Francophones get the same from Anglophones speaking French). I always got a kick out of something a friend used to say. If she hadn’t understood something you said she would say “Run that through me, again”.

  2. zeusiswatching said,

    June 2, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Variety and flourish are fine. Gender stereotyping is not. Then again, look at all the women authors in history who used male pen names.

    For all the bitching my teachers did about my horrendous handwriting in high school and further back, little was done to help me. Just bitching. I don’t cross my “t’s” with a straight line either. I don’t care if my third grade teacher doesn’t approve from her place in the hottest, darkest spot in hades.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 2, 2010 at 8:13 am

      I’d love to confront a few of the teachers I had in grade school and high school…

      Like the Principal who laughed at me when I suggested that I would like to take a small-business course because I wanted to work for my-self… start my own business. “No one works for themselves, Dearie… Every one works for someone else”. And he didn’t mean that everyone, even people who own their own businesses, work for someone.He meant that everyone works for a company or a department….

      Of course, just a few short years later, you HAD to know how to work for yourself, even when you work for the government. Knowing how to start and operate a business, especially for artists and craftsmen is vital. Business courses are offered in art colleges, now, because they KNOW that people need to know how to run their business.

      I’d also like to meet the teacher I had in grade 7 who treated me like dirt because, apparently, my step-father’s first wife (who had been dead for years before I met him) used to babysit him…

  3. mudhooks said,

    May 30, 2010 at 4:12 am

    My friend whose nephew featured in this post emailed me and told me about a teacher of his who told him that reading Lucy Maud Montgomery book was “for girls” and he shouldn’t be reading them.

    I was appalled at the art teacher that my friend’s son had in high school. She was “by the book” and went by the curriculum to the letter. However, there were things in the curriculum which didn’t make any sense. She gave instructions that even I couldn’t understand. She used terms that she didn’t explain and which contradicted themselves. She would encourage people who did things “her way” and either ignore or chastise anyone who did it differently.

    She also agreed to allow him to hand in a project that he had done on the computer and then refused to look at it or mark it because it “wasn’t in the curriculum”…. she didn’t encourage any form of individual style and complained that he didn’t “apply” himself to the projects he worked on.

    I wrote a letter for my friend to give to the principal telling him that I had known her son all his life and seen him start and finish wonderful art projects which were well beyond the interests of kids his own age. He asked for help when he needed it, was interested in materials and techniques which would help him achieve his intended goal and was always ready to try out new and interesting materials and techniques. I also said that since the beginning of the year he had expressed frustration in how the teacher was preventing him from going further on projects which would produce a satisfying end-product and regularly put him down in front of the class when he did anything that she didn’t personally like. I said I had seen him go from someone who spent all his time working on terrific projects on his own to someone who expressed “Why bother” whenever he was given a project for class because he knew he couldn’t produce what the teacher wanted.

    I said that the teacher didn’t seem to want to foster artistic self-awareness or self-confidence and that I didn’t think much of the curriculum, either.

    I said that whether a child pursues a career in art isn’t the point. Artistic expression is so vital to all aspects of life and that by this teacher encouraging only those students SHE thought had potential was doing a disservice to all her students.

    I said that if I had been forced to stick to the sort of curriculum the Board was pushing and had a teacher who went out of her way to discourage any form of self-expression, I would have lost interest in art, myself.

    Sadly, the boy just gave up on artistic stuff altogether, after that. It is too bad. He had a great deal of talent.

    Unfortunately, that teacher’s attitude also prevailed when I was in college. If you signed up for certain teachers, they didn’t encourage you to work in a style that was you but tried to create clones of themselves. I had some teachers who helped you develop your own style but many just left you to your own devices if you didn’t produce something that looked as though THEY had done it.

  4. sledpress said,

    May 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “Febuary” is a particular pet hate of mine. Language, unlike the colors we see in flowers, is an agreed-upon artifice, and while it can evolve, degeneration through laziness and inattention is not evolution.

    • mudhooks said,

      May 30, 2010 at 4:05 am

      I am all for language changing and evolving but when you have words used out of context, improperly, or are told “rooves was never the correct pronunciation” it irks me…

      There was a MacDonalds commercial a few years ago where they were pushing their new “sammiches”… All the way through the commercial the girl said “sammiches”. Every time she said it it was like nails on a chalkboard to me.

      The other word which really irks me is laying… “I was laying down”… Recently a commercial from “Dollars for Gold” has people talking about all the gold they have “laying around”. Chickens lay… things lie… Things only “lay” in the past tense.

      AND… FEBRUARY is not hard to say!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: