Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A pirate stole my heart

Last night I trolled through my kids' Open House at school. Predictably we visited classrooms and learned about calendar time in Kindergarten and reading goals in 4th grade. I had the first of a series of conversations with Mr. T's teacher about why he should print his assignments rather than struggle with writing them in cursive. Together Mr. T and I will navigate another year of ridiculous assessment of his quantitative knowledge instead of his qualitative knowledge--how fast, how many, how much seems to be the rule of thumb when it comes to student assessment at Happyland Elementary. Then Mr. T insisted we visit the music room (interesting because his music teacher is a total hag--rather petty and mean) and the art room (he has adored his art teacher since Day 1--so do I).

Midway to the art room, Mr. T said casually, "I drew a picture the other day. We've only had art once, so I've just drawn one picture."

Me: "Cool. Will I be able to see it?"

Mr. T: "I don't know."

We entered his classroom, looked around and after she finished with another family, Mr. T's art teacher came over to us. "Did Mr. T tell you about his picture?"

Me: "Well, he mentioned something about drawing a picture for class."

The art teacher twinkled at Mr. T and then said, "Let me explain the assignment first. They were to draw self-portraits. Mr. T asked if he had to draw himself as he was right now or if he could draw himself as somebody else. I told him he could draw himself as somebody else if he wanted to." Which is why we love the art teacher--she encourages creative, divergent thinking. "Here is his class--Mr. T, can you help your mom find your picture?" Then she left to greet another family.

We sifted through a stack of pencil drawn faces--many were simplistic--a few lines for hair, circles for eyes, ovals for faces. Others took time to add in a few details--the stripes on their t-shirts, earrings, necks and hands. Then we came to Mr. T's.

In his picture, Mr. T was a pirate--complete with bandana and eye patch. He stood on a deck next to a treasure chest overflowing with boullion, in the background he'd detailed the mast of a ship and an island across the water with a cliffside etched with a skull. Clouds littered the sky, each plank of the deck was drawn. His mouth, hair, nose and eyes were sketched with precision and care.

I was in awe. Not only does Mr. T think outside the box (a talent NOT encouraged enough at his school, thank God for art class), but he has such passion and talent. I'm totally proud and I'm beginning to think he has something more special inside of him than what I've imagined. I've seen a glimmer of Mr. T's future and let me tell you, it's amazing.


  1. Oh I LOVE it! I love that he had the courage to go with his gut and draw something he was passionate about. That's a true self portrait.

  2. Frame it properly! That way, he will see how important his creative side is, and you'll have something wonderful on your wall.

  3. Oh mah holy ... you know the rest. How wonderful. You gave me goosebumps just describing it.

  4. I love that. I'm so glad he's given creative license in at least one of his classes. It's a shame it's not encouraged more from his teachers.
    I'm sure you'll take care of that though!

  5. I hope he shares the treasure with his family!

  6. I love it! How awesome to have a teacher who really gets Mr.T.

  7. That is awesome! :) I'd be so proud...

  8. You've illustrated so perfectly why we must have art in the schools--everyone has a talent, but they're not all the same talent.

  9. It's like the old saying: "Ninjas exist because pirates let them."

    I love that your son loves pirates. What a cutie!

  10. What would we do without cool Art Teachers?

  11. Bravo Mr. must have been delighted!

  12. AHHH! I can hear all ladies in Mr. T's later (MUCH later) life gasp and swoon at his Arty Pirate Manliness.

    WelL done Mr.T. ;)

  13. Hi, I came over from Nan's :) Don't you just wish all teachers could be like his art teacher? It is why I am seriously considering home schooling... but that's some time away for me yet. Any chance of you showing us Mr. T's piece de resistance?

  14. I agree with Nan: frame it for all to see. Sounds like he has his mom's imagination and artistic bent. Kudo's to the art teacher, too!
    And congrats on getting the PTA's bum in gear! You rock, GG!


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