so today . . . i was once again surprised by the five year old mind.
we have been learning about different countries in our social studies curriculum. this week we are learning about china. i always find this a little bit ironic, considering the majority of my students are chinese by heritage. and although many of them were born here in the united states, their parents were not. so i am sure they know waaaay more about china than i do. and really, what we learn about each country is kind of superficial--climate, exports, location, stuff like that. but when i am teaching them what our curriculum says about china, i always expect one of them to say, "that's not right!" it is compounded this year, because my assistant is chinese--really chinese! she has only been here for a few years. i was reading about chinese new year last week, and i kept expecting her to say, "that's not true!" but she didn't. it probably helped that the book i was reading was written by a chinese lady, but still...
i don't know why i expect that the books will get it wrong. it is just that sometimes the generalizations that are made seem kind of simplified--like saying chinese children like to jump rope and play ping pong! really?? that is kind of like saying american children like to play jacks and baseball. i was an american child. and let me just say, baseball was my worst nightmare when i was in school! so when i am teaching the curriculum, i pick and choose what i tell the kids.
today, their paper had the chinese character for "big" printed with red ink. their task was to copy it. but the really cool thing that happend, was that when i showed them the paper, one little girl's face lit up and she said, "oh, oh, i know what that says! that says BIG!" she was so excited! and so was i, because this little girl isn't chinese--she is philipino, but she takes chinese class in the afternoon. and she knew how to read the chinese character for BIG.
i am amazed by this. when i first started working at this school, i thought i would stay late in the afternoons and learn chinese with the kids. it sounded like a great idea, but i quickly gave it up. there was no way i was going to learn chinese. it is way too hard!!
but apparently it isn't too hard if you are five years old...
so anyway, i explained the paper and what they were supposed to do. this was a task that should have taken them all of 30 seconds to complete, so i was kind of surprised to see kevin still working on it ten minutes later. when he finally brought me his paper, this is what i saw.i really like kevin, but like several of the boys in my class this year, he doesn't always listen to my directions. and clearly he hadn't listened to them this time. "kevin," i said, "this is a very cool picture, but you were supposed to draw the character for BIG." he looked up at me and very seriously said, "but i drew God. he was the biggest character i could think of!"
i laughed. it was just too cute! clearly he had been listening, his brain had just tweaked my words a bit. and the really funny thing? kevin is chinese! he should have known what i was talking about, even if i hadn't taken the time to thoroughly explain it.
we sing a song in music time called, "my God is so big!" and i guess kevin got that message. because in his picture, God is definitely the biggest one. he is huge! but the thing that makes me smile, is all the tiny little people crawling all over God, standing on his foot, even balancing on the top of a cloud. i love it!
kevin just kept saying, "what?!" as i laughed. i'm sure he couldn't figure out what i thought was so funny. but i loved it! i loved that God was the biggest thing kevin could think of. i love that the people are all over God. but mostly, i love that kevin has learned that God is big! and we can crawl all over him, and he doesn't mind--he still smiles.
i guess he was listening after all... kind of...